Gary Neville claims Premier League are ‘frightened’ to back season restart

By PA Sport Staff
PA Media: Sport

Gary Neville has criticised the Premier League and its clubs for failing to make the case for a return to action.

The former Manchester United and England defender accused them of being “frightened to death” to publicly back plans to restart the season for fear of being held liable should something go wrong.

Premier League clubs met on Friday to reaffirm their commitment to resuming the campaign and are understood to have earmarked June 8 as a best-case scenario to return following the coronavirus suspension.

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But Neville feels there has been too much anonymous briefing and not enough public declarations.

Neville wrote on Twitter: “The PL are having a CV nightmare. They keep spouting Health First but then brief constantly “We have to Re-Start”. I’d respect them more if they said “We accept the increase in Health Risk but it’s one we are willing to take”. They won’t as they are frightened to death!”

When Neville was asked by a Twitter user what would happen if someone died as a result of the restart, he said: “That’s why we haven’t heard one single prominent CEO / Chairman / Owner or Executive open his mouth to back the re-start ! Brief / Brief / Brief ! Scared to death of the liability and blame.”

Before making an exception for Brighton as the “only club willing to take a stand”, Neville added: “It would be good for them to speak at least once. Any of them! Clubs included. They are bottling this virus on comms. Very Happy to tell us when they are delivering food parcels though.”

The Premier League announced on Friday that clubs had again confirmed their commitment to finishing the season.

A statement added: “The League and clubs are considering the first tentative moves forward and will only return to training and playing with Government guidance, under expert medical advice and after consultation with players and managers.

“The League welcomed the creation of the Government medical working group for a return of elite sport, which met for the first time this morning.

“No decisions were taken at today’s shareholders’ meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding ‘Project Restart’.”

Brighton have held virtual press conferences during the shutdown and chief executive Paul Barber voiced opposition to the idea of finishing the season at neutral venues on his club’s official website on Saturday.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady revealed more details about the plans in a newspaper column on Saturday and Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish made the case for returning to action in a Sunday Times column.

Parish claimed the return of football, if considered appropriate, would be a boost to the taxpayer, lift the nation’s mental health and could help provide a blueprint for other industries to define a “new normal” amid the pandemic.

Neville later praised Parish for speaking out after being alerted to the article by the Palace chairman but reiterated his general point.

The TV pundit wrote: “Steve I want football to return. I also understand the complexities. However it’s depressing that the PL and clubs seem to be in hiding, scared to death of communicating. No-one wants to be responsible for this one! Just in case the unthinkable happens.”

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