By David Williams
Newport County and other League One and Two clubs have been told to expect their season will soon be declared over.
The prediction has come from Salford co-owner Gary Neville, who says he is “99 per cent certain” that his club, County and others in League Two will soon be forced to abandon the current campaign.
On Friday morning The Athletic reported that the EFL will tell clubs in League One and League Two there is no chance of playing any more games and ask them to vote on a method to decide promotion and relegation.
While the Bundesliga is back on May 16 and there are discussions around how the Premier League could resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, Neville told Sky Sport’s The Football Show that financially a restart at League One and League Two levels is just not feasible.
“I said a few weeks ago I think it’s extremely unlikely League One and League Two will play football,” said Neville.
“We know the Bundesliga and the measures they’re putting in place to allow football to happen. It’s going to cost a lot of money. And the same with the Premier League.
“We’re talking millions of pounds to invest in what would be health and safety protocols, neutral venues, all the logistics, the hotel costs of keeping club people and players in as safe environments as possible will be huge costs to the Bundesliga and the Premier League.
“League One and League Two can’t fund that. The clubs won’t fund that.
“You’ve obviously got added complexities that 50 per cent of players in League One and League Two are out of contract in two months and ultimately clubs don’t want to pay them beyond those contracts so there will be no extensions available.
“I think also there’s just a lack of willingness at League One and League Two levels to take the risk and go through all the economic risks.
“There will be no fans in stadiums, you’d have to pay players appearance money and bonus money – and the clubs haven’t got the money.
“The only way in which football could happen in League One and League Two is if our friends in the Premier League were able to fund football for League One and League Two but I’m not sure at this moment in time they’ve got their own ship in order, so they’re not going to look after League One and League Two.”
The report in The Athletic also suggested promotion and relegation from League One and League Two could be decided with a weighted points-per-game method, where results home and away are rewarded differently.
This would be controversial as it would see Cheltenham Town leapfrog Exeter City to be promoted from League Two – with the fourth-placed side in both League One and League Two promoted in the absence of the Play-Offs.
“There are going to be some very unhappy people in the next few weeks if the points-per-game method is used,” said Neville.
“There will be some pain at the top but that pain will multiply for teams at the bottom if that starts to happen, which I suspect it will.
“At the bottom of League Two, if relegation happens, Stevenage are obviously well adrift at the bottom. You will have some majorly unhappy individuals in these next few weeks.
“We’re in a position at Salford where we were never going to go down, never going to go up this season. So we’re actually sat there in a neutral position where if we could return to football – our players would like to return to football, we would like to return to football safely – but the league can’t afford it and we’re not sure how to deliver it.
“So it’s probably not going to happen. In fact I’d say I’m 99 per cent sure it’s not going to happen.”