The former Manchester United and England star accused Swann of actions that “bordered on disgusting” after he called for clubs to stop payments in light of the coronavirus crisis, which has seen all matches across the country – the main source of income for football clubs – suspended until further notice.
Speaking to ITV, Scunthorpe majority shareholder Swann said: “I feel if the league is suspended then the players wages should be suspended until the resumption of full training and a resumption date confirmed.
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“The players then need to approach the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association), EFL (English Football League) and FA (Football Association) for support during the suspension time.”
The comments were put to Neville on Sky Sports’ daily Football Show, which led to a stinging response from the current Salford City co-owner. Neville, who shares ownership of the League Two club with fellow former United players Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Phil Neville and David Beckham as well as businessman Peter Lim, believes the comments only reinforce the negative outlook on football by the public.
He also compared the move to circumstances in different industries, and asked where the measures stop as it could easily continue to all non-playing staff across the club when no matches are being played to bring in revenue.
“I think it’s bordering on disgusting,” Neville said on Sky Sports. “It doesn’t help at all the way in which football is perceived by fans and by players.
“I pay people in my hotels to look after guests and they are not doing that at the moment. What do I do just chuck them out on the street and say sorry your income is gone now? That is not how we deal with people in every other industry.
The reason we have workers rights and employee rights is to protect against owners like that, who literally at this moment in time would chuck those lads out of their clubs, stop paying them, not give them a penny, leaving them with mortgages to pay.
“There are other business leaders in other industries who have done things like that in this crisis. They can afford to pay their staff but have literally just made them redundant and thrown them away or asked them to take unpaid leave or holidays.
“It’s disgusting. You have to do the right thing.”
Neville had earlier criticised the Premier League – and specifically the club owners and chief executives – for the lack of communication in what was being discussed behind closed doors about the crisis plans being put in place.
But Swann’s comment struck a sore spot with Neville, who argued that the morals of his comments were nothing short of a disgrace.
“These are people, human beings – forget whether they are football players, lawyers, accountants or whether they work in a hotel. The reality is, none of this was their doing,” Neville added.
“The idea that a Football League owner says we pay people to play in the Football League and we shouldn’t pay them if they are not playing is wrong. Is his executive team getting paid during this time? Are staff who work in the ticket office going to get chucked out as well – the people who need money?
“It’s truly terrible the way some football club owners have tried to act in this crisis. It’s why players look at them as rich, wealthy Rolls-Royce-driving owners who they don’t care about and won’t take a pay cut for. And I don’t blame them.”