Coronavirus: Gary Neville warns against playing matches behind closed doors

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With professional football suspended amid the coronavirus crisis, Gary Neville says it is too early to consider playing behind closed doors.

On Thursday, the Premier League and EFL confirmed there would be no professional matches played until at least April 30 as the United Kingdom continues its attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

All games in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are currently postponed, with the FA having agreed to extend the current season beyond June 30 if it is necessary.

Some matches in Europe were played behind closed doors prior to the widespread postponement of leagues across the continent.

But former Manchester United defender Neville does not believe putting on games without fans in attendance is the best course of action at this stage.

“There are a lot of things to happen before we contemplate behind closed doors,” Neville told BBC Radio 5Live.

“I said no on this about three or four weeks ago because I felt that it takes away from the essence of football.

 

“I also felt that EFL clubs and non-league clubs would suffer too much from the revenue loss and it would put them under.

“At the moment, the behind closed doors idea has got to come only after the health priority.

“Will fans turn up outside the stadium? Will fans congregate outside the stadium if their team can get promoted or get relegated, or if they can get into Europe?

“How are we going to stop that? How are the police going to man it? How are they health services going to react to incidents that happen off the back of it and do we need to put any more pressure on the services at this point in time?

“However, if those fears could be overcome somewhere down the line within this 12-week period then [behind closed doors games] could be the case.”

Neville last week confirmed the two Manchester hotels he co-owns with Ryan Giggs would be open free of charge to health workers during the crisis.

There have been over 5,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Britain, with 285 people losing their lives to the virus so far.

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