Coronavirus: Gary Neville calls for joyous 'festival of football' after COVID-19 pandemic

By Chris Myson 20 March 2020 2
Coronavirus: Gary Neville calls for joyous 'festival of football' after COVID-19 pandemic

Gary Neville has no problem with the top competitions squeezing in as many matches as possible after the coronavirus pandemic and feels it would create a joyous "festival of football".

Euro 2020 has been postponed for one year and the Premier League has been suspended until April 30 at the earliest amid the spread of COVID-19.

Huge debate has surrounded how the season can be finished and what the impact will be on the following campaign.

But a packed stint of fixtures could ensure 2019-20 is wrapped up promptly and former Manchester United captain Neville feels a period of constant matches would bring people together.

"If players need to play every day for nine days to finish the Premier League as a worst-case scenario, they would do it because they'd get their heads around it and make it a festival of football,” he said to Sky Sports.

"It would be something spectacular. Football can bring some hope and joy to the country when we finally come out of this crisis.

"Doing a festival of football where the league is finished in two weeks, the Champions League gets finished in a week and the FA Cup is finished in four days could be something quite special.

"I'm not saying they are the examples that should be followed, but there could be something quite spectacular about football fans coming together after this crisis is over.

"It would bring some joy back to the nation as football does impact so many people.

"It is possible over a six or an eight-week period that there might be four games a week. It's a global crisis and football has to react and compromise."

Neville, who won praise this week for providing two hotels he owns with Ryan Giggs to NHS staff free of charge, feels players should have no issues with an intense fixture schedule under the circumstances.

"I'm not concerned about squeezing more games in,” he said. "Players, clubs, managers and physios will understand that you can't complain about fixture congestion next season due to the circumstances. 

"I think footballers, the authorities, the associations will want to play as many matches as psychically possible in a week, a month or a three-month period to get everything back on track.

"If you think about the Christmas period, clubs play four games in eight days. 

"When we were going to win the Premier League with Manchester United we had a backlog of fixtures due to FA Cup and we played four games in a week.”

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