Gary Neville with Amanda Broderick to celebrate the partnership with the University of Salford (Image Credit: The University of Salfords Press Office photostream Flickr. Suitable for re-use under CC BY 2.0
Salford City co-owner Gary Neville has voiced his support for player safety ahead of today’s virtual meeting between Sky Bet League Two club owners.
The owners and co-owners of the fourth tier’s 24 clubs will hold an official video meeting on Tuesday to discuss growing concerns around the season’s conclusion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on Sky Sports News’ ‘The Football Show’ on Tuesday morning, Neville expressed his stance on the season’s potential finale ahead of the meeting, with the Ammies’ current mid-table position in mind.
He said: “I’ve got no vested interest in whether it’s null and void, whether teams are rewarded places, teams go up and teams don’t go up.
“Our team is unaffected so I’m not going to sit there and have a massive opinion on that. However, what I will have an opinion on is if our players’ health and safety is breached or put at risk.”
Salford City currently occupies the tenth spot in Sky Bet League Two, eight points off a play-off berth and over 25 points above the relegation zone with just nine games left to play.
The Ammies are therefore unlikely to be involved in the mix at either end of the table, should the season resume, hence the former Manchester United defender’s opinion on what happens with the rest of the campaign.
“We’re unlikely to go up and we’re unlikely to go down, so I’ve got no vested interest in terms of sort of saying ‘I think the season should be voided or I think the season should continue’.
Neville also spoke about the situation involving the contracts of English Football League (EFL) players that expire on June 30 2020, having expressed his concerns on the matter on the show earlier in the week.
“50% of players in League One and League Two are out of contract on June 30 and there are clubs quite rightly saying ‘I’m not paying players who are out of contract beyond that date’.
“Straight away the integrity of the competition has gone. So ultimately, I’m in a situation whereby I’m happy to be led by the clubs in respect to whether the season continues or doesn’t, and by the health experts.”
Last week, EFL Chair Rick Parry addressed an open letter to all supporters to give an update on the EFL’s situation amid the pandemic.
He said: “As we’ve previously stated, the health and wellbeing of our Clubs, their players and staff, and you – the fans – remains our first priority, and so you can appreciate that we want to give thorough and rigorous thought to these matters.
The message remains as important as ever.
— E F L (@EFL) April 15, 2020
“From the outset, we have committed to regular dialogue with each of these groups, as well as the Government, in order to tackle the challenges we face as effectively as possible.
“As well as taking into account the current climate in terms of public opinion, including those views of fans, we are regularly taking ideas and suggestions from our Clubs.”