Ray Parlour says ‘players have the right to say NO’ amid claims Premier League is ‘blackmailing’ clubs into returning during COVID-19 crisis

Arsenal legend Ray Parlour believes footballers should be permitted to REFUSE TO PLAY – should the Premier League be given the green light to resume the 2019/20 season.

Top-flight chiefs are due to meet on Monday to discuss ‘Project Restart’ and how best to complete the current campaign.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen the sporting world grind to a halt, with English football suspended since March.

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The Premier League has been suspended since March 13, with stadiums up and down the country deserted every weekend when they’d usually be full to the rafters
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With the Bundesliga recently announcing their plans to resume later this month, there are claims the Premier League want to follow Germany’s example and have put ‘tentative plans’ in place to kick-start the campaign in June.

However, there are said to be a number of clubs near the bottom of the table that are against the plans to play matches at neutral venues.

But, they have apparently been warned that the only other alternative is that the campaign is scrapped and those teams currently in the bottom three – currently Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City – are relegated.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has recently slammed those suggestions and has accused authorities in trying to ‘bully’ and  ‘blackmail’ clubs into playing again over the huge finances at stake for the league.

There is said to be a lot of pressure on the English top-flight to finish the season in order to protect £762million in TV money, that would otherwise have to be repaid to the respective broadcasters.

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Gary Neville has accused Premier League chiefs of ‘bullying’ clubs to get back playing
Getty Images

“You can call them negotiations between the clubs or you can call them blackmail, whichever way you want to put it,” Neville said.

“There is no doubt we’ve got a divided Premier League at this moment in time.

“The message from day one in this global pandemic, everyone talked about a social approach, being together and be kind, but football isn’t a nice place at the moment, it is full of self-interest.

“They are somehow trying to get to an agreed position but it really is getting dirty behind the scenes – that we’ll relegate you if you don’t play. But what about health?

“The clubs at the bottom were always going to get bullied by the rest of the league into playing.”

PARLOUR - Ray Parlour says ‘players have the right to say NO’ amid claims Premier League is ‘blackmailing’ clubs into returning during COVID-19 crisis
Ray Parlour is a regular alongside Alan Brazil on the talkSPORT Breakfast
@talkSPORT on Twitter

And, speaking on the talkSPORT Breakfast, Parlour said players should be allowed to say ‘no’ to returning, as there is more at stake for them than just money.

“You can’t put pressure on players like that,” said the former Arsenal midfielder.

“If they’re not 100 per cent, you don’t know what their lifestyles are like, they might have a pregnant wife at home, they might have older relatives living with them and they can’t put them in jeopardy.

‘We’re talking about lives here, this isn’t just a football match. You can go and play football, yes, but it can be an absolute nightmare for families.

“30,000 people have lost their lives – that’s more important than football.”

Watch a clip of Ray Parlour on the talkSPORT Breakfast above


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