The Fiver | It’s almost time for the start of the EPL Festival of Self-Interest 2020! | Football


The Fiver must level with you: we’re getting a bit bored now. There are only so many times we can post pictures of our dinner on Social Media Disgrace Twitter, or retweet a message about Captain Tom Moore with an additional comment that hints at our own unassuming virtue. It’s just not the same without association football. FIVER BORED! WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! FIVER WANT JAKE HUMPHREY! FIVER WANT SUPER SUNDAY! FIVER WANT TWO HOURS’ POST-MATCH ANALYSIS OF BURNLEY 0-0 WATFORD! FIVER WANT THE PANEL TO CRACK ANOTHER ONE ABOUT CROUCHY BEING WELL TALL!

Actually, no, things aren’t that bad. Besides, we should soon have some alternative soccer-based entertainment. Yep, it’s almost time for the start of the EPL Festival of Self-Interest 2020! It’s becoming increasingly apparent, even to a vessel as empty as The Fiver, that the season is not going to finish by the end of June, and that means an almighty grab for money and prizes is on the way faster than you can say “maintain the integrity of the competition”. Just as the British government learned the relevant lessons from other countries before implementing their world-leading Covid-19 response, the Premier League has the advantage of being able to observe test cases elsewhere. Not least in Scotland, where the festival is already in its final stages. Dundee’s decision to backtrack and vote in favour of the SPFL’s resolution has made it much likelier than the SPL will finish after 30 games, with the Queen’s Celtic as champions and Hearts relegated.

$tevie Mbe, whose Pope’s Newc O’Rangers side are 13 points behind with a game in hand, is among those who are less than impressed. “From afar the SPFL looks an absolute mess,” Gerrard tooted into a webcam. “All I ask is for the main leader of the SPFL to show some real leadership. I think what he has to do now – because there are so many accusations, doubts and questions about this institution – is allow an independent investigation into the setup to prove everything wrong and make sure there is fairness and transparency. The SPFL has said it’s open to an internal investigation but I don’t agree with that because you shouldn’t really be allowed to mark your own homework. There’s not going to be any questions asked.”

The Fiver has no idea about the rights and wrongs of the situation. Even if we did, life’s far too short, and we’ve got a couple of new Netflix series on the go. We need to finish them in a hurry, because soon we’re going to be glued to Sky Sports News 24/7. If it’s all kicking off like this in Scotland, just imagine how ugly it’s going to get in England. Popcorn, please!


“He put money in front of us and said: ‘I want you guys to lose’” – Moses Swaibu, the former Lincoln player jailed for match-fixing, gets his chat on with Ed Aarons.

Moses Swaibu there.

Moses Swaibu there. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Guardian


Football Weekly Extra will be in this general vicinity.


“What a great suggestion asking readers to submit their favourite chants with the bad words edited out (yesterday’s Fiver letters). Here is my collection:” – Chas Tuchel.

“The favourite game my team lost (Fiver letters passim)? Reading’s 1982-83 season was an extraordinary piece of performance art, in which an actually pretty good side somehow contrived to get relegated with 53 points. The undoubted highlight was the away match at Doncaster. Two-all after 10 minutes, 5-3 at half-time, it ended 7-5 to the hosts, with Kerry Dixon scoring four in a losing cause. The whole game was like the last five minutes of lunch football at school, with no midfield and sufficient chances that both teams’ scores could have been doubled. All it needed was a tannoy announcement of ‘next goal wins’ on 89 minutes” – Nick Reed.

“Vasco da Gama 3-1 Manchester United, 8 January 2000. I flew with fellow New York-based United fans to Rio for that controversial first edition of the Club World Championship. Their first game was a laborious 1-1 draw with Necaxa of Mexico. Our cabbie to the second match at the Maracanã helpfully explained the welcome chant from Vasco fans: ‘You are going to get murdered.’ Romário rendered Gary Neville and the United defence about as mobile as Christ the Redeemer, scoring two. United didn’t have a prayer. We had a great time, consoling ourselves with caipirinhas, churrascarias, futevolei on the beach, and finding unexpected kinship with Flamengo fans, Vasco’s arch-rivals, who also play in red and black” – Alex Frew McMillan.

“May I offer this from 11 October 1969? It was the American Soccer League play-off between my Rochester Lancers and the Syracuse Scorpions, from just down Interstate 95. We had finished tied for first in the Northern division, and met in Aquinas Stadium, a concrete relic of the 1950s heyday of high-school gridiron. I snuck my 17-year-old self under the fence and sat among a large contingent of, primarily, Italian fans. The match was feisty, to say the least, as a fair number of Syracuse players had previously played for the Lancers. The referee had his hands full and the degree to which the match descended in quality was being matched by the rising passion of the spectators. When the portly gentleman next to me pulled out a knife with a 10-inch blade and began waving it about while those around him cheered him on, I knew I was not in Kansas any more. We lost 2-1, with the referee and linesmen sprinting to their cars as fans stormed the pitch. The wooden stakes that served as corner flags also served a couple of fans as convenient cudgels with which to hammer on their cars as they made their getaway. I had never experienced anything like it. And I’m not sure what it says about me, but I was hooked” – Mike Fichtner.

“I was disappointed to see Mick Channon’s Subbuteo opponent Martin Buchan (yesterday’s Still Want More?) flagrantly flouting the rules and addressing the ball about to use the thumb as a spring. No wonder Manchester United lost the subsequent FA Cup final. For a perfect demonstration of exemplary technique, look no further than Gordon Banks in this excellent gallery” – Andy Korman.

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 … Mike Fichtner.


Test your knowledge of the Premier League’s first ever weekend.


Fifpro, the global players’ union, has warned that women’s football is faced with an “existential threat” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ah, football.

Ah, football. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

A commitment to completing the season before the start of July is among the options being considered by Premier League clubs.

Everton fancy a bit of Lille’s Brazilian defender Gabriel (not the old Arsenal one) for £30m.

Arsenal, meanwhile, want their players to take a pay cut of 12.5%, which would apply if [when? – Fiver Ed] they did not qualify for Big Cup, but that suggestion has been rejected by a significant number of the squad.

And Newcastle’s prospective new owners are adamant that the Premier League test will be a formality, despite Amnesty saying the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is “glamorising” the kingdom’s “abysmal human rights record” with its move into football.


My Favourite Game, by Rob Bleaney, features Barcelona v Real Madrid in 2010: five goals, 12 yellow cards, one red and a Messi masterclass.

Some game.

Some game. Photograph: Marti Fradera/Reuters

Max Rushden takes René Higuita to task for that scorpion kick, and then takes it all back again.

Classic YouTube features the return of Retrospective Punishment. Get on it.

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

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