The schedule detailing how the Premier League planned to RESTART FOOTBALL had been out in the wild for no more than a couple of hours on Thursday when The Fiver remembered what exactly it was that prompted us to launch our ambitious, they-said-it-could-never-work but ultimately successful STOP FOOTBALL campaign all those years ago. Four consecutive matches live on TV on a Saturday? Fantastic, it’s been a while and it’s not like we have anything better to do at the weekend. Another four on Sunday?
Well, who wouldn’t want to spend a second consecutive summer day indoors watching one behind-closed-doors game after another and then two more, doing your bit to boost national morale while others in the house with no interest in football quietly seethe and fume because you’re hogging the telly? Another two matches on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings? Crikey! That dog looking mournful with the lead in its mouth won’t walk itself you know and those feral children whose names you can’t remember need tucking in.
Of course, fragile domestic harmony won’t be the only thing further disrupted by the Premier League’s decision to RESTART FOOTBALL by turning the water-cannon on full blast after three months of almost total drought. With a ball yet to be kicked, the powers that be have already managed to upset fans of several northern clubs by insisting that several of them will have to play key games at neutral venues because apparently people who own whippets can’t be trusted not to congregate en masse outside a practically empty stadium when the game’s on inside.
Key games like any that might result in Liverpool winning the title, for example, as well as less key games such as Manchester United v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Newcastle … and possibly a derby or two featuring more sophisticated and cosmopolitan teams from down south. “The majority of remaining matches will be played at home and away as scheduled, with a small number of fixtures taking place at neutral venues, which, contrary to some reports, have yet to be agreed,” nee-nawed deputy chief constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, the UK’s football policing lead.
Now The Fiver genuinely has no idea whether or not Liverpool fans will stage a big impromptu party outside Anfield when their team win a first title in 30 years but several Merseyside-based scribes have already chronicled their fury at police presumption the red half of Merseyside is not to be trusted. What we do know for certain is that if a delirious mob of fans of any club are hell-bent on following their instincts and convening outside a stadium during lockdown, the police won’t be able to do much to stop them. What’s more, if they wish to travel anywhere else there’s little or nothing anyone can do to prevent them all jumping in their cars and heading off in a raucous convoy to test their eyes.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m a Joe Wicks advocate, so I dance around to him every morning” – Peter Drury reveals how he has been starting his days on lockdown with PE sessions meant for children in this red-hot chat with Richard Foster, who also caught up with Guy Mowbray.
The latest Football Weekly Extra is right here, while you can also get your ears around the third podcast in our series of Forgotten Stories of Football, focusing on Jeff Hall: the footballer whose death turned the tide against polio.
“Would it be possible for you to publish an advance schedule of who’s drawn the short straw at Fiver Towers, and has to stay sober/awake long enough to half-heartedly (yes, I’m being generous there) copy and paste a missive together while the rest of the crew can hit the Tin early doors? Just asking for a friend, who despite being no Noble Francis (and indeed, who is?) has had a smattering of successes over the years with letters to The Fiver receiving the honour [cough] of inclusion. But that hasn’t happened once, in all these years, when a certain person whose name sounds a bit like ‘Gary Blendenning’ has been at the editorial tiller. So at the risk of sounding like the kind of conspiracy theorist who may have recently been loitering in the vicinity of 5G masts with a can of petrol and a box of matches, I’m harbouring the suspicion that my drunken and somewhat misjudged heckle (via Twitter) at a Football Weekly Live show a few years ago, aimed at ‘Gary’, may have had unintended consequences” – Nick Payne.
“OK, the Premier League is coming back. Grand. But could The Fiver get behind a movement like STOP INTERNATIONAL BACKGAMMON? Or how about STOP ONLINE CHESS TOURNAMENTS? Really, I’d just like to see you get a win once in a while” – Mike Wilner.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Just in case we all forgot about it, the FA has reminded us that the FA Cup will restart at the quarter-final stage on 27 and 28 June, with the Cup final set to take place at Wembley on 1 August.
Liverpool fancy Timo Werner. Timo Werner fancies Liverpool.
League One and League Two clubs will have the chance to decide whether to curtail the season in a meeting on 8 June.
Serie A has been given the green light to resume from 20 June. “Now Italy is starting again and it is right that soccer starts again too,” said minister for sport, Vincenzo Spadafora.
Everton will be without Jean-Philippe Gbamin until next year after the midfielder suffered serious achilles-knack on his return to training. “Everyone at the club is devastated,” read a club statement.
And La Liga may give fans the option to watch behind-closed-doors games with superimposed fans surrounding the pitch instead of empty seats. Yup, that’s where we’re at.
STILL WANT MORE?
What, when, where? Paul MacInnes has sat through the endless meetings to give us all the answers on the Premier League’s return.
Workington stunned Manchester United (for one half at least) in a 1958 FA Cup tie. Now a charity webcast is reliving the match to help people hit by the coronavirus crisis. Jamie Jackson has the story.
Germany rallied to save women’s football while the WSL was ended immediately. The FA should be embarrassed by that, writes Suzanne Wrack.
“Sven used to thank me for getting him the England job” – Dietmar Hamann and Alex Hess remember the goal that ended Kevin Keegan’s England reign and sent the old Wembley off with a whimper.
Will Nathan Jones’s return to Luton turn as sour as his departure 16 months ago. Ben Fisher examimes the unexpected recoupling.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!