STILL STOPPED

Day Four of Football Has Stopped and, taking its lead from the BBC in replacing scheduled football coverage with monotonously predictable, largely unfunny but inexplicably popular humour everyone claims to dislike … it’s business as usual at Fiver Towers. Well, it will be, once we can get past Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Perrie from Little Mix as they dance in sync up the marble staircase in their socks, then clear a space for our antique typewriter at the kitchen table, where James Milner is painstakingly rationing his teabags.

Of course the Liverpool duo weren’t the only football folk forced to find new and interesting ways of keeping themselves entertained over the weekend; Manchester United midfielder Fred was spotted immersing himself in the myriad delights Blackpool Pleasure Beach has to offer the discerning visitor in mid-March, while Mason Mount has been “reminded of his responsibilities” after abandoning what was supposed to be a 14-day period of self-isolation to stand and run around in the company of like-minded individuals, including West Ham’s Declan Rice, on a five-a-side pitch kicking and passing around what looked suspiciously like a football. Stop football, Mason. STOP FOOTBALL.

Elsewhere, in a move that was almost certainly in no way related to the fact that West Ham are hovering above the drop zone on goal difference, the club’s vice-chair Karren Brady used her column in a tabloid newspaper to call for the Premier League season to be declared void. “Who knows who would have gone down or come up if the games have not actually been played in full?” she asked. “A huge blow to Liverpool who might be robbed of their first title in 30 years.” And a potentially merciful release for West Ham who might be relegated and suffer potentially ruinous financial losses, she was careful not to add.

In the face of furious criticism for what was at best a tin-eared piece that appeared to be motivated by self-interest, Brady has since clarified her remarks by stating her point “was safety of fans, players, staff come 1st & if the remaining games just cannot be played the only fair & reasonable thing is to declare season null and void”. In essence, what she’d already written but now condensed into a small enough size to fit in a social media disgrace post.

Meanwhile, as fans sit at home twiddling their thumbs wondering when they will no longer be forced to watch a man dressed as an old Irishwoman asking her screamingly camp son if he’s “seen Mrs Murphy’s pussy”, the Football League has confirmed that, like pretty much everyone else, it doesn’t really know. “Now is the time for cool heads and calm reflection, rather than speculation,” said EFL chair Rick Parry in a statement. Cool heads, clean hands, kindness and consideration. Oh and lots of choreography and endless cups of tea.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“If it isn’t possible to bring the leagues to a conclusion, we will opt for other decisions. It isn’t ruled out that the current season could be spread out over two different seasons. I understand that there is a lot of curiosity, but today nobody is in a position to say what our future holds” – Italian football head honcho president Gabriele Gravina keeping the options open.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

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RECOMMENDED VIEWING

With Italy in lockdown, Napoli asked quarantined fans to gather on their balconies and sing Un Giorno All’Improvviso, a song popularised during their 2016 title challenge. Slightly dreading what we’ll get round Fiver Towers way.


Napoli fans in coronavirus quarantine sing ‘Un Giorno All’Improvviso’ from balconies – video

FIVER LETTERS

“Congratulations to The Fiver on a successful STOP FOOTBALL campaign. As is typical in live sports broadcasting when events are cancelled, will The Fiver take the approach of filling the gap with a ‘best of The Fiver’ highlights packages? I’m not sure it would last until 3 April, though” – James Megaw Wilson.

“Can you now please start a STOP RUGBY campaign?” – John Watson.

“Now that your campaign has been successful, will The Fiver please stop sending me emails? Something good has to come out of this” – Lawrence Jones.

“Knowing how lazy you are and assuming you’ve been on the Tin since FOOTBALL STOPPED, can I suggest you just randomly select old Fivers from the past? I quite enjoyed Friday’s link to that 2009 edition, the reminiscing and the painful mention of Marouane Chamakh. If only he had gone to Sunderland and not to us at Arsenal” – Mark Bennet.

“I see all the hullabaloo about stopping football and scrapping the season, but I have a solution on how we can end the season: eSports. Once the domain of spotty yoof and their Commodore 64, these days it’s an actual thing. So why don’t we play out the rest of the season using Fifa 20 or Championship Manager? It’ll still be better than most Saturday television” – Paul Dixon.

“The Fiver’s prizeless letter o’ the day used to define pointlessness. But well done, Fiver, for pushing pointlessness to a new existential peak by continuing to accept letters about a sport that has, finally, been stopped. Eh, I’m sorry, I’ve completely forgotten why I started writing this … now there’s a sentiment that The Fiver can identify with” – Justin Kavanagh.

“Have no idea what to do with myself now. For no real reason, this. I especially like the concept of Archie ‘the’ Gemmill, Martin O’Neill dancing like a geology postgrad forced to enjoy the company of local slaughterhouse workers on the lash under the simmering threat of violence, Kenny Burns as focus of said violence, and Paper Lace themselves, apparently Nottingham’s most successful band, which is one in the eye for the Sleaford Mods, Tindersticks and, er, Fudge Tunnel” – Jon Millard.

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 … Jon Millard.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

The latest Football Weekly podcast is right here.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Eastleigh manager Ben Strevens has accused the National League of greed after matches went ahead – including their 4-0 loss at Notts County – amid the coronavirus pandemic. “The reason it went ahead is because whoever sits on the board of the National League just cared about the money,” he said.



The game at Meadow Lane. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes is the Premier League player of the month for February. “I’m happy with my start but from now I need to give more, to be better,” he cheered.

And despite the match being called off mid-ride on Friday, a group of Crystal Palace fans have completed their 120-mile cycle from Selhurst to Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium to support Palace for Life Foundation, the club’s official charity that works with vulnerable young people.

STILL WANT MORE?

Andy Brassell reports on the latest from the ever-changing crisis landscape facing German football.

After a long weekend listening to the Cardigans, we’ve got a wholly unrelated new feature called My Favourite Game. Daniel Harris gets the ball rolling.

Chest-hair incoming!



Chest-hair incoming! Photograph: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Paul Wilson pays a trip to Fylde for some hot National League action.

And there are more images from the weekend of non-league football right here if it floats your boat.

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

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