Gary Neville all but confirmed brother Phil Neville is to leave his role as England women’s manager next summer, with the European Championship’s delay to 2022 meaning the “rug’s been pulled under his feet”.
The former Manchester United and Everton defender last year led the Lionesses to SheBelieves Cup glory and fourth place at the World Cup, having succeeded Mark Sampson at the helm in January 2018.
Neville signed a deal with the Football Association until 2021, when England was due to host the European Championship – a tournament UEFA has confirmed will now take place from July 6-31, 2022, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The 43-year-old is widely expected to leave before then at the expiration of his current contract.
Gary Neville more or less confirmed the news that his brother would leave the England post at the end of his contract, having spoken to him when reports emerged on Wednesday afternoon.
“He’s got 14 months left on his contract and obviously the Olympics and the European Championships were within that period,” he told Sky Sports.
“The problem is now obviously with coronavirus, those tournaments have been taken out of the period and international manager’s contracts run to tournament ends.
“If the tournaments have gone, then you’ve got a real problem obviously in the sense that your just coaching friendlies. I think that’s the situation that’s developed.
“I think Phil was a little bit surprised that it had come out yesterday, but it’s out and obviously in football nowadays you accept that journalists have got good contacts and people within organisations are going to speak.
“I would imagine they’re going to obviously need to make a statement in the next couple of days to sort of put some clarity around it.”
As well as leading the Lionesses, who have lost seven of their last 11 matches in all competitions, into Euro 2021, Phil Neville had been set to lead coach at this summer’s Olympic Games.
Gary Neville is not sure about the situation regarding his brother’s intended role coaching the Team GB women’s side at the rearranged 2021 Olympics, but does not believe the Lionesses manager’s focus will waver.
“I don’t know if anything decisive will be said today or the next couple of days,” the former Valencia and England men’s team coach said. “I mean usually the FA will react when a story breaks of significance to sort of put some clarity around it.
“But I think, from Phil’s point of view, he’s got 14 months left and he just thinks that he’ll be sort of coaching for the next 14 months because that’s what he’s there to do, it’s what he was always going to do.
“It’s just obviously unfortunate. You know, everyone is having to adapt with what’s happening at the moment and with tournaments being taken away that he was going to be involved in, then essentially the rug’s been pulled under his feet from what would have been his major goals as part of his career.
“Managers… I think with England, you’ll get a Worlds, you’ll get a Euros and then obviously it’ll be reflected upon after that. The Olympics was in the middle of that as well, so two of the tournaments have gone out of his portfolio that he was there to manage.”
On the new dates for the women’s Euros next summer, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “When we had to take an urgent decision on the postponement of Euro 2020, we always had the impact on UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 in mind.
“We have carefully considered all options, with our commitment to the growth of women’s football at the forefront of our thinking.
“By moving it to the following year, we are ensuring that our flagship women’s competition will be the only major football tournament of the summer, providing it with the spotlight it deserves.”
The final of the tournament will now take place on what will be the first Sunday of that year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
UEFA spoke to organisers of the Games as part of its discussions, along with the Football Association as the host nation.
UEFA’s chief of women’s football Nadine Kessler said: “The core question guiding us together with the English FA was, what is best for women’s football?
“With the Olympics now being confirmed for summer 2021, we firmly believe that moving to 2022 is in the best interests of the tournament, the players, the fans, women’s football partners and everybody involved in all areas and at all levels of the game.
“UEFA Women’s Euro is Europe’s biggest women’s sport event. It is also among the biggest sports events in the world, and therefore needs and deserves a platform of its own.”
We will come back even stronger and we will put on the most amazing home tournament in 2022.— Lionesses (@Lionesses) April 23, 2020
The FA’s director of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell, said: “As a nation and at the FA, we are extremely proud to be hosting Euro 2021, and are fully committed to delivering a world-class experience for players, staff and fans alike as the best of the European game comes to England.
“However, the sporting calendar must adapt whilst the world tackles something much bigger than sport. In these unprecedented times, it should be reiterated that the health of our communities remains the absolute priority for us all.
“As a result, following discussions with UEFA, we fully support their decision to postpone Euro 2021. We agree that this decision will ultimately benefit the tournament, creating its own window in the football calendar. It will also allow us all more time following this challenging period to deliver an unforgettable event befitting of a home Euro.
“We have made excellent progress in the planning of the tournament to date, and particularly want to thank our host cities and venues for their ongoing commitment and support. We are also grateful to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) for their collaboration as we sought to confirm these new dates
and look forward to working together to showcase the best of women’s sport across both of our events.”
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