Gary Neville urges footballers to learn new skills and prepare for downturn

Former Manchester United captain says many players will struggle to secure contracts in the coming months

File photo dated 24-09-2016 of Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville. PA Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 23, 2020. Gary Neville believes footballers in the lower leagues would be wise to line up an alternative job in case the coronavirus pandemic impact on club finances leaves them out of work. See PA story SOCCER Coronavirus. Photo credit should read Mike Egerton/PA Wire
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Gary Neville believes footballers in the lower leagues should look to develop new skills in case the coronavirus pandemic affects their football career adversely.

Many players whose contracts expire in June are likely to struggle to secure new deals with existing or other clubs.

Neville is well aware of the situation outside of England's top divisions as a part owner of League Two side Salford, and thinks it would be sensible for players to plan for the coming months.

"I don't think it has sunk in yet with players and agents but it will do in two months' time," Neville told Sky Sports.

"It's going to be very difficult to secure contracts with football clubs in the next 18 months because clubs are going to find it very difficult to pay.

"If I was a football player today I would be online learning, I'd be getting a degree or a BTEC. I would be doing something different and trying to get a dual skill.

"That's not panicking. That's just good planning. The jobs in football are going to be less, the money is going to be less, and thousands of players are going to need to do a job next year or something out of football.

"They have to plan for that now. The smart ones will get their heads around that now because the clubs want real action. They want to reset the game."

Neville believes even the possibility of restarting soon with games behind closed doors is a remote one as clubs cannot put their players' health at risk.

"As a Salford City owner, I have players who potentially have diabetes, players with asthma," the former Manchester United captain said.

"Am I going to put them on a football field and risk their health and safety for a game of football? The answer is quite simply 'no'. I am not sure how Premier League clubs are going to get around it."