Gary Neville has said he fears a financial “nightmare” is looming for Football League clubs because of the coronavirus crisis, though is not sure that the number of clubs that will go out of business without crowds next season is as high as some fear.
“I do think there will be clubs considering going into administration in the next three to four months, basically just to save themselves,” the Salford City co-owner and former England international told Sky Sports.
“It will be July, August, September, October where the real pressure comes,” Neville added. “Everybody’s looking down at their own feet and they’re not seeing the carnage that’s coming economically in the next three to four months.”
The Huddersfield Town owner, Phil Hodgkinson, told the BBC over the weekend that around “50 or 60” clubs could go out of business if supporters were not allowed to attend fixtures next season. Neville said: “What the Huddersfield owner says is quite alarming. I do think there is a looming nightmare economically for the EFL clubs, quite a few of them. Whether it’s up to 60 I’m not sure.
“Football at the EFL level does need funding from somewhere in the next four, five or six months, or else we will see sides go into administration. That would be a real shame.”
Meanwhile, formal votes on whether divisions will play on or curtail their seasons are not expected until next week, but promotion-chasing West Brom still keen to play out the Championship season. Their chief executive, Mark Jenkins, said: “The club is resolutely behind finishing the campaign, if it is at all possible, where it belongs and that is on the pitch.
“From the moment that the path was cleared for the players to return to training, our mindset has been focused solely on being in the best possible shape, physically and mentally, to complete the remaining nine league fixtures.”
The EFL board will review feedback from clubs to its proposed framework for curtailment when it gathers on Wednesday, with a final framework to be put to clubs for a vote at an extraordinary general meeting.
Birmingham have announced that four players will leave the club at the end of June, even if there are fixtures still to be played. The goalkeeper David Stockdale, the left-back Jonathan Grounds, the winger Jacques Maghoma and the left-back Cheick Keita will all depart when their contracts expire on 30 June. The winger Jefferson Montero, on loan from Swansea, is also leaving St Andrew’s.