MAN GOES OVERBOARD
After three days of his boorish nonsense, the world of football is back to where it was before The Man started throwing his weight around like a great big ignorant greedy fat get. He and his pals – those self-appointed blue-sky thinkers and over-promoted white-collar yes-men, turbojobbies one and all – have been firmly put back in their box. For a month or two at least. Let’s face it, we’re not totally guaranteed to have heard the end of this, they’ll be up to no good again the minute we take our eye off the ball and give them an inch. But still, with Atlético and both Milan clubs following the shamed English sextet out of the €$£, you have to enjoy the little victories while you can. So: yay. A reserved, qualified, no exclamation-mark yay.
See, it’s a great relief … until you factor in the complete and utter destruction of the few thin slivers of trust that remained between fans and the institutions they support. And the queasy sensation of having agreed in principle with an argument put forward by Boris Johnson. And the uneasy feeling of still having been played, given that under cover of this going off, Uefa quietly ratified its all-new, really-rubbish, mega-distended Swiss Cup, which we’ll probably now have to suck up and like too, while the performatively reluctant Chelsea and Manchester City appear to have emerged from this entire fiasco as heroes, despite their spendthrift oligarch overlords having pied-piped everyone towards the precipice in the first place.
To be scrupulously fair to the likes of Chelsea and City – and indeed PSG, sitting there, just out of shot, equally doe-eyed and innocent – they only accelerated a process that had been heading this way for years, superleagues of various domestic and continental hue having been mooted in one form or another since the 1950s. So when apportioning blame, it’s all about timing your run, which explains why Everton, prime movers in the superleagueification of English football as one of 1992’s preposterously arrogant Big Five, can sit proudly atop their high horse now. Yet there’s only so much fun to be had by wagging a self-righteous finger at someone with dirtier hands, and The Fiver hopes fans of all clubs will soon band together for the greater good, and fight the good fight for the structural change that’d make football a fairer game: SALARY CAPS AND 50+1 NOW! Or failing that, class war. Either will do.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Once the team arrived and stepped off the bus there were severe protests. Eggs were thrown at the players, who were also verbally attacked” – German police respond after Schalke players and staff were threatened by their own fans, as a 1-0 defeat to Arminia Bielefeld relegated them from the Bundesliga for the first time in 33 years.
“Hi, I’ve been away for a couple of days. The last thing I saw was the Dulux dog ripping Spurs a new one. It can’t have got any worse for them, surely?” – John O’Donnell.
“I applaud man-of-the-people Boris Johnson’s description of the €$£ as ‘offend[ing] the basic principles of competition’ and a protectionist ‘cartel’. Maybe things would have turned out differently in 2016 if he had been around to help ward off a disastrous and irreversible breakaway from a fabled European institution with ideals of openness and fair play. Oh” – Ian Potter.
“If the €uropean $uper £eague is looking for an anthem, I nominate Gimme Some Money by Spinal Tap” – Simon Riley.
“Ben Fisher was explaining recently how the Canaries had got their strategy bang on for making their quick return to the Premier League, with their catchy ‘the future started yesterday’ slogan. Are they blessed with clairvoyant powers ? This season’s ‘future started yesterday’ was the promotion-confirming 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth, followed up by a 1-0 home defeat to Watford. Are they already preparing their bang-on strategy for a quick return to the joy and unity of the Championship?” – Jeremy Boyce.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Ian Potter.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Won’t somebody think of the poor banks?
An apology of sorts at Liverpool. “I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days,” parped John W Henry. It’s something I won’t forget. And shows the power the fans have and will rightly continue to have.”
Ed Woodward is heading out at Manchester United.
The tombola for the women’s football tournament at Tokyo’s Big Sports Day has thrown Team GB into Group E with Japan, Canada and Chile.
A new report has found that an increase in the accessibility of women’s football could lead to viewing figures sky-rocketing by more than 350% globally.
Watford boss Xisco Muñoz is warning his upwardly mobile Hornets to stay “100% focused” after that defeat of Norwich took them within three points of automatic promotion.
Derby are in the deep doo-doo after a 3-0 loss at Preston left them three points clear of the Championship trap-door, where Rotherham loom with three games in hand. “It wasn’t good enough,” sniffed manager Wayne Rooney. “It is out of our hands.”
In case you missed it: Chelsea 0-0 Brighton.
And the O’Irish government doesn’t expect to meet Uefa’s demand of filling the Arriva Stadium to 25% capacity for Euro Not 2020 games in June. “We’re just too cautious about that, we just think June is too soon,” sighed deputy PM Leo Varadkar.
STILL WANT MORE?
This isn’t over, warns Barney Ronay.
An entertaining timeline of 36 breathless hours in the world of $uper £eague.
Proper Journalism’s David Conn on whether the UK government’s involvement was mere political opportunism.
American fans love European football precisely because it isn’t like sport in the USA! USA!! USA!!!, whoops Dave Caldwell.
The Knowledge is keeping on keeping on.
And here’s an article about actual football! Why Kai Havertz is Chelsea’s best option to lead the line. By Ben McAleer.
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