Premier League must act to prevent ‘absolute carnage’ in lower leagues – Neville

The Premier League should borrow against future television earnings to safeguard English football’s financial survival amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to former Manchester United defender Gary Neville.

The Sky Sports pundit believes the league and its 20 member clubs must act, and hopes the appointment of new chairman Gary Hoffman will be a positive development.

Former Coventry chairman Hoffman’s appointment was ratified unanimously by the clubs on Friday, and he will succeed interim chair Claudia Arney on June 1.

Neville, who is a co-owner of League Two side Salford, said on The Football Show on Sky Sports: “He (Hoffman) will understand the predicament of lower league clubs.

“I said four weeks ago before this started the kind of huge opportunity here to do the right thing and prop the game up.

“I mentioned that they should go and borrow a billion pounds – it was a number, to be fair, I just said flippantly at that time against the future income sources.

“The future revenues are into the 10s of billions in the Premier League and more if they wanted to extend their TV contracts.

“The idea of basically borrowing at this time 300 or 400 million, 500 million pounds, which is more than an affordable number, doing a soft deal with a bank on a loan to give the FA, the EFL, the players, whoever it is – the National League need 15 million.

“I’ve gone from opportunity to despair to almost now pleading with somebody at the Premier League just to do the right thing for the game.”

The Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters said earlier this month that the competition stood to lose at least £1billion if the 2019-20 season cannot be completed, with the bulk of that loss made up of money having to be repaid to broadcasters.

It has been reported that Sky is prepared to waive the rebate either in exchange for a one-season extension of its current deal or the right to show more matches in the next two seasons, but that would still leave teams having to find almost £400million between them at a time of huge uncertainty.

Neville added: “They can take a portion of money up front from a loan somewhere and they can just do the right thing to settle the game down – reassure the game that it’s looking after them.

“There are 20 league clubs. They have to do it. The Premier League and the clubs are the only people who can stop this becoming absolute carnage economically and saves the fans at lower levels.”

Hoffman will leave his role at Hastings Group Holdings plc when he takes up his position at the Premier League.

He is also a former chairman of the Football Foundation.

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