Gary Neville says “enough is enough” as he warned football is in danger of eating itself.
Former England defender Neville, now one of the most powerful voices in the game, is leading a call for change within the English game to stop the culture of greed and the heart being ripped out of the game.
Neville has a unique perspective as a former Manchester United player, club legend, Sky pundit and also co-owner of League Two club Salford City.
That is why he can see “good bits and bad bits” from the Project Big Picture proposals from the Big Six to shake up the Premier League and also save crisis-hit clubs in the EFL who are in serious danger of going bust.
The fear is that the Football Association is no longer strong enough or powerful enough to run the game and that the Government must step in to appoint an independent regulatory body to oversee change.
Neville has signed up to Saving The Beautiful Game: Manistefo For Change along with former FA executives David Bernstein, David Davies, Andy Burnham, Denise Lewis, MP Helen Grant and lawyer Greg Scott who bring different qualities to the table.
But at the heart of the campaign is a desire to bring football back to the average fan and to stop the powerful clubs becoming too powerful so that they ruin the game.
They have brought forward their own proposals and at the heart is a new regulatory body, embracing the German model where fans get a say and clubs are licensed and also a ban on owners borrowing against fixed assets.
Neville said: “Do I want the Glazer family or Roman Abramovich or Daniel Levy or John Henry running football in this country and being able to do what they want? No, I don’t.
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“Football was the heart of the community. That’s what football clubs were, it was the relief after a long, hard week and it is still that for many. However, it’s less affordable, less accessible and we have to change that.
“The fabric and intent of the game in this country has got to come back. We’ve got an amazing game, we’ve got amazing players, amazing managers, the Premier League is outstanding in what it does.
"This is not a criticism of the Premier League in this report. But we have to pull it back.
“Not the Premier League, we have to pull it back to what the roots of football are and it is the heart of the community. It’s become non-affordable, less accessible to people.
"There’s enough money in the game in the game for that not to happen.
“I see the desperation in the faces and in the words of League Two owners and chairmen on the calls because they just want help. They’re crying for help.
"That’s not necessarily Salford City because I know we’d be looked at differently. But we’re not the norm.
“We are the exception. I’m passionate about football, I’m passionate about the Premier League, I’m passionate about non-league, the EFL, because I’ve experienced it all, I love the PFA and the work that does.
“The reality of it is here, that there is enough money to distribute to have a fairer deal to distribute to everybody but fans must be included and must be at the heart of it.”
Former FA executive Davies added: “I believe this is the best opportunity for real change in the way football is governed in this country for 30 years. If you disagree then you should come up with a real plan of your own.”
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