AH, THE RETURN OF A DOSSIER

Emotions in Scottish fitba circles were mixed on Thursday morning before the release of the eagerly-awaited Pope’s Newc O’Rangers dossier alleging assorted shenanigans on the part of the Scottish Professional Football League in ending the season prematurely. After weeks of suspense, the excitement of those intrigued to learn what hard evidence O’Rangers have been keeping up their sleeve was rather tempered by the fact they’d have to wade through no fewer than 200 pages of outrage to find out.

Now, The Fiver didn’t get where it is today wasting its time reading preposterously long and dreary howls of anguish published by famously paranoid football clubs, so we tasked our Scottish cousin Shortbread McFiver to provide us with a condensed version through the medium of modern dance. Balling his little fists, his mottled face empurpled with the radge, he proceeded to give it the full Begbie, violently reducing every nearby stick of furniture to kindling while screaming incoherently at the injustice of it all.

“It is now a month since [O’]Rangers accused the SPFL of bullying and corruption relating to the Dundee FC return,” announced the SPFL by way of response. “At last, [O’]Rangers have issued their ‘dossier’ and we will now take time to review it, before responding to all 42 clubs. However, an initial examination of their ‘dossier’ has failed to identify a single shred of evidence to support [O’]Rangers’ vociferous claims of corruption, bullying and coercion by SPFL staff.” O’Rangers allege clubs were not told of a potential £10m liability and “substantial problems” with league reconstruction before they voted to end the season, claiming the information was deliberately left out of a briefing paper sent to clubs. They claim to have been misled by SPFL chief Neil Doncaster, who they now want suspended in a row that looks set to run and run. And to think some people still say Scottish fitba is boring.

In considerably less complicated news, $tevie Mbe has moved to quell non-existent speculation regarding his future as manager at Ibrox, saying he has no plans to leave the club for pastures new. “If people think I am going to leave [O’] Rangers in the near future because it is my decision, and I don’t want to be there, then that opinion is wrong,” he tooted. “In terms of me being proud and happy to be the manager, and wanting to move the club forward and improve it, then I am all in. It was always going to be a job where I had to learn on the go.” In the unlikely event that Mbe does decide to call it a day at O’Rangers, the famous season-long farewell tour upon which he embarked to draw the curtain on his illustrious Liverpool career suggests his current club and its fans will be given plenty of notice.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I’ve noted that training had resumed in almost 10 European countries. By adapting our method, we would probably have been able to complete the season. We’re on a wrong track but it’s not too late to try and think … about something coherent. As long as there’s life, there’s hope” – still feeling fresh and funky at Ligue 1’s abrupt resolution, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas reckons it’s not too late to start again.



Some Lyon fans, in a time not that long ago. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Football Weekly Extra will be in this general vicinity.

FIVER LETTERS

“Can you report (or fabricate news of) a Spurs loss, for old times’ sake? I get skittish when I haven’t seen an unfavourable scoreline in months” – Seth Kleinschmidt [we’ll see what we can do – Fiver Ed].

“My solution to finishing the season safely and fairly (Fiver letters passim) would be for each team to nominate one player to play each remaining opponent at Subbuteo. This could be on the neutral ground of my kitchen table (I can even loan many of the teams a full set although the sponsors’ logos will have to be written on in pen if they insist). My table is well over two metres long, so as long as the participants don’t lean over too much, safe social distancing can be maintained. Sky TV will be allowed in to film (at a cost of course) and I predict the audience viewing figures will be huge. Can’t think why the suits haven’t come up with it yet” – John Myles.

“Re: triangular football (yesterday’s letters). There is already this” – Paul Moodie.

“Re: favourite banners from the past (yesterday’s letters). During the height of the ABU boom in the mid-1990s, I remember a Manchester United away match, with a banner in the away end reading: ‘Part-time glory-hunting c0ckney [email protected] (Urmston branch).’ Fond memories” – Rob Adam.

Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Paul Moodie.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

The Bundesliga is launching its START FOOTBALL campaign next Saturday, with games including the Dortmund v Schalke derby. “The season finale will take place at the end of June,” cheered league suit Christian Seifert.

Dortmund’s Erling Haaland in training on Thursday.



Dortmund’s Erling Haaland in training on Thursday. Photograph: Friedemann Vogel/EPA

Burnley players are unanimously in favour of completing the current season and resuming training, according to boss Sean Dyche. “Everyone wants to get back to training and they want the season to go ahead,” he growled. “They understand the importance and for themselves as well, as individuals.”

Less keen are Serie A basement side Brescia, whose captain Daniele Gastaldello says the entire squad opposes a resumption. “We’ve all been touched,” he said. “We all know someone who has been directly hit by the tragedy. We’ve realised how little it takes to ruin a family.”

Macclesfield Town have been hit with a seven-point deduction for failing to fulfil their home game against Plymouth in December. It drops them three points above Stevenage, League Two’s relegation spot dwellers, having played a game more, albeit with a better goal and points per game difference.

And Tottenham are licking their wounds after losing 4-3 to a Weird Uncle Fiver XI, having led 3-0 against nine men going into added time.

STILL WANT MORE?

“This could be the end of the grassroots game.” In our future of football series, we look at Covid-19’s impact on the non-league and grassroots, while Suzanne Wrack assesses what happens next in women’s football.

Sigh.



Sigh. Photograph: Loop Images Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

Quiz time: real or regen?

Nemanja Matic sits down for an online Q&A and talks Mourinho, Manchester United and growing up in Serbia.

One-time fitba wonderkid Ryan “Mini Messi” Gauld gets his chat on with Ewan Murray about life in Portugal and proving a point with Farense.

Andy Brassell on the risks the Bundesliga is taking with its resumption.

This week’s Classic YouTube roundup includes some choice Gianfranco Zola wizardry plus fight-in-empty-room starters Graeme Souness and Eamon Dunphy.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

ENJOY THE LONG WEEKEND, SEE YOU ON MONDAY

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