THEY SHALL NOT PASS

Premier League players spend most of their time being sworn at for thinking they exist in a bubble. Now, amid pressure for them to resume competition despite Britain being ravaged by a mysterious pox that has killed more people than the government can bring itself to count, Premier League players are being told to act like they exist in a bubble. These, then, are confusing and concerning times for players, far more confusing or concerning than VAR or the time David Moyes said he’s all about winning.

There has been confusion in other countries too, of course, such as in France. There, the PSG big legume Nasser al-Khelaïfi have reportedly called on Kylian Mbappé and chums to accept big pay cuts to help make ends meet at the modest Qatar-backed public relations limousine. To date, those negotiations seem to have gone about as far as PSG in Big Cup. But now it looks like the landscape is about to change drastically in France and no, we don’t mean Weird Uncle Fiver is off on another camping trip.

We mean France’s prime minister, Edouard Philippe, announced on Tuesday afternoon that even if the country begins gradually lifting its lockdown, no one will be allowed to play team sports at least until September. Solo sports are permitted, which offers consolation at least to Neymar, but, that caveat notwithstanding, the 2019-20 seasons for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 have been declared over. What that means in terms of final standings, promotion and relegation and so on has yet to be confirmed. Nor do we know precisely what it means for PSG and Lyon’s runs in this season’s Big Cup, which Uefa still insists could be concluded by late August, presumably on Jupiter.

With the Netherlands having abolished its domestic season and Belgium close to ratifying a decision to do likewise, Premier League players are left to contemplate another riddle: does the fact that all these foreign types have accepted the current season can’t continue make it more or less likely that English authorities will reach a similar ruling?

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Michael Robinson had a big heart and loved telling stories. He told stories on the telly, he told stories on the radio and he told stories every time you were with him. Warm, funny, human stories. Endlessly. He could talk and talk, though he listened too. You couldn’t meet him for lunch and get back before dinner. He loved football but above all he loved people, good people. The game, which he understood and communicated better than anyone was the excuse for everything else, he said” – a towering tribute to Michael Robinson by Sid Lowe, a European Cup winner who became the voice of Spanish football, who has died aged 61.



Michael Robinson after Liverpool’s 1984 European Cup triumph. Photograph: Colorsport/Rex/Shutterstock

RECOMMENDED LOOKING

It’s David Squires’ favourite game: Swindon Town 2-2 Manchester United, featuring fights with fans, a stamp and, er, the Bristol Bierkeller. You can get your very own copy too.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Check out the latest edition of Football Weekly, right here.

Football Weekly

The Manchester United v Arsenal rivalry revisited – Football Weekly

FIVER LETTERS

“The Fiver is not often right about many things but, after recently signing up and experiencing the platform first-hand, ‘Social Media Disgrace Twitter’ is more than aptly named” – Rick Bates.

“Renaming Barcelona’s stadium (Fiver letters passim) + the need to encourage visits to our lonely zoo animals after the lockdown = ‘Camp Gnu’” – Mike Wilner.

“Simple spelling change + conscientious approach to social distancing = ‘Camp No’. Perhaps sponsored by an American disinfectant company (or an old Bond villain)” – Robi Polgar.

“Barcelona could open sponsorship discussions with RuPaul, with a view to naming their stadium ‘Camp Nou’?” – Joe Mercer.

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 … Joe Mercer.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Daniel Harris from 7.45pm BST for hot retro MBM coverage of Brazil v France at the 1986 World Cup.

QUIZ! QUIZ! QUIZ!

Who scored the last goals at these football tournaments? Take on our quiz.

When The Fiver eats too much cheese at night.



When The Fiver eats too much cheese at night. Photograph: Lutz Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Top-flight English clubs will meet on Friday to discuss ‘Project Restart’, with government suits continuing to do much of the pushing. “I personally have been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community,” tooted culture secretary Oliver Dowden. “But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance.”

Watford chairman Scott Duxbury, however, thinks any resumption should be off the agenda until pressure on the NHS eases. “I feel uncomfortable at this stage even talking about football because there are people dying every day,” he said.

West Ham are determined not to sell Declan Rice despite growing interest from Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, £70m big ones stalking out of their eyes like an agitated Looney Tunes cartoon character.

And a 10-year-old Plymouth Argyle fan based in the USA! USA!! USA!!! has sent the Pilgrims his pocket money to help out during football’s shutdown. “I hope this does the club some good,” cheered Kasra Sherrell.

STILL WANT MORE?

David Hytner on Malcolm Kitts, the Spurs fan who spent 10 days in a coma, and how a nod from Harry Winks helped his recovery.

Malcolm, there.



Malcolm, there. Photograph: @ljp_kittsy / Instagram

Sid Lowe gets his chat on with Juan Antonio Pizzi about Barcelona under Bobby Robson, managing Chile and more.

Nick Ames on how Cambuur’s march to a fairytale promotion has been dashed by the Dutch league’s abandonment.

Steven Pye recalls how Arsenal became unofficial world champions a few months after that triumph at Anfield. All while having their physio sent off.

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

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