Gary Neville has predicted how football will change over the next decade (2020-2030)

  • Rob Swan

How will football change during the 2020s?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will finally be replaced as the world’s two best footballers, VAR is likely to be a lot different than it is now (or maybe it will have been scrapped completely), we may see the first £300 million player at some point, while footballers are likely to continue earning more and more money.

These are all fairly obvious shouts – but former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has revealed some predictions for the next 10 years which are a lot more interesting.

Neville believes that fans will be able to see more from their favourite players and coaches than ever before over the next decade.

Speaking to Geoff Shreeves on the latest episode of Sky Sports’ Off-Script series, Neville is convinced football is about to become more forensic than ever before.

“The big game-changer is happening before our eyes, it’s for everything to become recorded. Essentially, it’s for football to become online, digital, every minute of every day,” the Sky Sports pundit told Shreeves at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.

“I’m amazed that football clubs are not videoing training live to the fans around the world and monetising it.

“They’re not videoing the players in their cars in the morning on their way in and relating that to the fans. Fans want to hear from the players, they want to hear from the coach.”

Shreeves, unconvinced that football clubs would allow their training sessions to be broadcast, was told by Neville: “Geoff, it’s coming. It’s coming.”

He continued: “What’s going to happen is there will be aspects of training that won’t be filmed – the tactical aspect, the set-pieces – and that might be 25/30 per cent of the session. But the warm-up, the passing session, the shooting, the crossing, the little five-a-side at the end will be filmed, recorded and beamed out to everybody who wants to pay or subscribe to it in the next five to 10 years. It is happening before our eyes.

“Players will have cameras on them on the way into training, they’ll be interviewed on the way into training and the fans will be listening to those interviews.

“Tomorrow morning it’s [for example], Wayne Rooney will be on between 8:30-9:00am and we’re going to be doing a live podcast with him on the way in talking about his training session today, what he ate last night, what his nutrition is. That’s going to happen, Geoff, it’s going to happen.

“It’s going to become more detailed, more forensic, because content is becoming king.”

Neville was then asked whether we’ll see the first £1 million-a-week player in the 2020s, but the former United captain made the point that players like Messi and Ronaldo are already earning this much money from their contracts and sponsorship deals combined.

He also believes the Premier League is so popular across the world that there’s no reason to fear for its future during the 2020s.

“The content is valuable,” he said. “We’ve seen the introduction of new companies, we’ve seen Sky looking to strengthen their position, it’s something that isn’t going to go away because people love, whether we like it or not, they love the Premier League.

“Everywhere I go around the world, they love the Premier League. Africa, Asia, Europe, England, Ireland, Australasia… we have a game of football over here that is quite special and unique.”

However, Neville thinks it’s imperative that the Premier League retains the world’s best coaches in order to cement its status as the world’s greatest league.

He added: “Jose [Mourinho], [Jurgen] Klopp, [Antonio] Conte, Pep [Guardiola], [Mauricio] Pochettino… those five coaches in the last three or four years have produced some outstanding football. That’s transformed our European fortunes in terms of how the teams have done, we’ve had all English Champions League finals, we’ve had all English Europa League finals.

“The last three or four years we’ve taken back over from Spain and Germany in terms of being the most dominant performers in European competition.

“I think at this moment in time, the biggest challenge we have in this country is ensuring the coaches we have are the best coaches in the world. What’s been proven is no matter how much money we throw at it, we need the best coaches in the world here.”

Fascinating stuff from Neville, who is widely regarded as football’s best pundit for a reason.

Only time will tell whether his predictions come to fruition, but he seems certain about the direction football is heading over the next few years.

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