KEEPING 220 YARDS APART
There was celebration today after Liverpool decided to furlough the idea of furloughing their employees, giving in to an outcry from fans, former players and over-opinionated media types with too many column inches to fill now there’s no sport on. There has been no word yet on whether the furlough will be furloughed furlong or if it will just be a short-term outage.
Like the virus that inspired it, it does not seem like long ago that nobody had even heard of the furlough, but having gained a foothold in the population it has swept the nation with haste. The Premier League has not been immune, with hundreds of normally-productive employees at Newcastle, Tottenham, Bournemouth and Norwich now in isolation away from their clubs. Liverpool’s fans were the first to successfully fight off the infection, discovering that it is possible to combat even aggressive cases of furlough using the commonly-available medicine of public outrage.
“We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week, and are truly sorry for that,” said Liverpool’s chief executive, Peter Moore, in an open letter to fans. The Reds will thus continue to pay their employees using the cash bloating their own bank accounts, while other owners of top-flight clubs have concluded that they would do anything (furlough), but they won’t do that.
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust is continuing to apply a similar remedy to their own club’s case of furlough, nearly a week after it exhibited its first symptoms despite pre-tax profits in the year to 30 June 2018 at a wild £138.9m. “We have been saying consistently – pause and rethink,” they said on Twitter. “We are now saying it clearly and in public – do not further damage the club’s reputation, listen to your fans.” Former Spurs striker Gary Lineker also took to social media in an attempted to resuscitate the club’s moral compass, but so far it remains unresponsive. It remains to be seen whether they and other wealthy clubs infected with furlough suffer long-term side-effects, should potential customers decide to impose some financial self-isolation upon them by steering well clear as a result.
LIVE (SORT OF) ON BIG WEBSITE!
Join Scott Murray for retro minute-by-minute coverage of Crystal Palace v Liverpool in the 1990 FA Cup semi-final from midday on Wednesday, while Rob Smyth will also be on retro duty later that afternoon for the other semi-final between Oldham and Manchester United. Kick-off at 3.30pm.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Let’s be fair, it’s almost brainless … what on earth are you doing anyway to have a sort-of party like that? You’re not responsible, you’re bang out of order. I’d be looking to get him out the club to be honest. That ain’t right. You end up believing all the hype and feeling you can control the world and do anything you like” – Ian Holloway, who loves a party as much as the next man, lets rip on Kyle Walker after the England defender broke quarantine rules by hosting a party with two sex workers.
It’s ya boy, David Squires on blaming football (and Joël Bats) for Covid-19.
Listen to Football Weekly? Listen to Football Weekly! This week, Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning and Lars Sivertsen discuss the 1998 World Cup final between Brazil and France, the Ronaldo situation, the obsession with footballers’ wages, changes in Ireland and chapter three of Detective Wilson.
“Suedehead [Monday’s Fiver letters]? Oh, please. The early ‘70s skinhead cut was about a 2, and the suedehead cut was about a 4 (and it was much more about the clothes, anyway). The Cheltenham players in the pictures have just shaved their heads. A sacrifice, true, but in the early 70s we’d just have assumed they were in the Army” – Joe Mercer.
“My least favourite game (Friday’s Fiver letters)? England 2-3 Netherlands, a Wednesday night in 2012. Travelled down from Manchester, then a tube over to Wembley only for the driver, two or three stops away, to say the line was cancelled. Forced to walk to Wembley which was a speck in the distance, missed the first hour only to finally get in and watch England lose. Then do the reverse trip home. Shudders” – Paul Jordan.
“Empathy abounds with my fellow 1,056 readers. However, given the current climate, the chance to revisit the 1997 Division One play-off final [between Crystal Palace and Sheffield United], after staring at my knees for 89 minutes due to excess of Tin and then finally looking up in the 89th minute to witness David Hopkin condemning us to another year of ignominy, I would gladly give either arm for” – Paul Barlow.
“Can I extend my never-ending sympathy for the West Ham fans who trekked north in 1990 to watch their team in the Milk Cup semi-final first leg. It was at Oldham. That was bad enough but the weather was typically Oldham. They reached the ground soaking wet because of the lack of public transport (it hasn’t changed) and then stood on the Rochdale Road End which had no roof (that’s changed). It rained for the full 90 minutes. What could go wrong? The Hammers were only facing Oldham. Six-nil to the Latics! Oh we laughed in the Chaddy End, especially me; an ex-patriot Londoner and Chelsea fan. OK, so it was one of my best matches but I can do empathy” – Peter Holford.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Tributes have been paid to Raddy Antic, the former Atlético Madrid manager and Luton player, who has died aged 71.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has insisted he won’t be taking a salary cut but has lobbed £500,000 to the players’ NHS fund and other charities, with the PFA itself donating £1m.
FA bigwig Greg Clarke has said football “faces the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse.” Meanwhile, the Premier League has defended clubs furloughing some of their staff, stating that clubs have been acting with “restraint.”
Spain is preparing a protocol for clubs’ return to training with three proposed dates for La Liga to restart: 28 May, 6 June and 28 June. “We think we can finish [the season] in August,” honked La Liga suit Javier Tebas.
The EFL is to appeal against a decision to clear Birmingham of a misconduct charge related to an alleged financial breach.
Meanwhile on Planet Fifa, New York prosecutors have revealed new details of alleged bribes paid to Fifa exco suits to gain their votes for Qatar to land next year’s Ethics World Cup.
And Thomas Müller, 57, has scribbled his umlaut on a two-year contract extension with Bayern Munich, tying him to the club until June 2023.
STILL WANT MORE?
There’s a Sadio Mané documentary coming this week – check out the trailer to Made in Senegal here.
Richard Foster recalls Crystal Palace’s stonking win over Liverpool in the 1990 FA Cup semi-final.
Wolves’ forward Diogo Jota has his priorities straight during lockdown, parping to Paul Doyle: “I’m coaching Telford United on Football Manager.”
‘Perhaps it’s time we all gave Matt Hancock a break …’ toots Jonathan Liew, in his column on football’s poisonous blame culture. Comments are closed on that one.
Disappointed with The Fiver for your lockdown reading? Here’s some book-shaped recommendations.
“When it pops out, you’ve got to be crafty, you’ve got to drift off …” and other similar managerial gold in our ranty QUIZ! QUIZ!! QUIZ!!!
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!