A LOAD OF APP?

<Big Brother Bloke> Day whatever number it is, and everyone’s still maintaining the pretence that the Premier League season can be completed in a dignified manner</Big Brother Bloke>. Yep, it’s been another busy 24 hours in the world of Project TV Money, the Premier League’s rigorous attempt to resume the competition on 12 June. It looks increasingly as if the problem of playing at neutral venues – rather than, say, the medical particulars of an ongoing pandemic – could kibosh any attempt to finish the 2019-20 season.

Neutral venues are one of the many inventive suggestions to complete the season, while maintaining the integrity of the 38-game, home-and-away, 90-minute-per-match, three substitutions-per-side, three-relegations competition that started last August. The latest is the use of an artificial atmosphere, generated by fans on their sofas cheering or jeering into a £1 app on their phone. According to the Daily Mail, “users are presented with four options if they want to engage with the action — whoop, clap, sing and boo — which will be played in the stadium almost immediately and broadcast on television”. The only disappointment is that they plan to stop there. Given Dominic Raab’s observation that the return of football would “lift the spirits of the nation”, it seems remiss not to pipe a few bars of Vera Lynn’s finest over the Tannoy. The Highbury mural is also due an upgrade to demonstrate the 21st century face of English football. If a nice painting behind the goal of fans taking selfies as they tuck into their beetroot and shallot tarte tatin, with walnut, orange and dill dressing doesn’t inspire Jesse Lingard to end his goal drought, then nothing will.

All of this is hypothetical. The 20 clubs are scheduled to vote next week, with a 14-6 majority needed for the Premier League to move to the next stage of its masterplan. The League Managers’ Association’s Richard Bevan, said on today’s, erm, Today programme that he thinks the season will be cancelled if teams cannot agree to play at neutral grounds. Brighton and Aston Villa are among those who have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the idea. “Personally, I am against it,” tooted Villa chief suit Christian Purslow. “We are a club that prides itself on our home form; I think two thirds of our wins this season have come at home. We’ve got six home games left to play so I think any Villa fan will agree that giving up that advantage is a massive decision for somebody running Aston Villa. And I certainly wouldn’t agree to that, unless the circumstances were right.

“It is a bit like the Brexit process. There is general agreement on what we want to achieve, which is to try and find a way to put on football and complete the 19-20 season.” The comparison with Brexit is a bit excessive. By the time the final legal case arising from the 2019-20 season is completed in March 2051, Brexit will seem like a golden age.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Has your mum shown you the goal? It worked out perfectly” – in an act that not even Weird Uncle Fiver could style out, Andrés Iniesta calls a 10-year-old kid conceived on the night he scored a famous last-minute goal at Stamford Bridge in the 2009 Big Cup semi-final to wish him and his mother a happy conception day.


Andrés Iniesta calls children born because of his goal against Chelsea in 2009 – video

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Football Weekly Extra Extra, you say?

Football Weekly

Football Weekly Extra Extra

FIVER LETTERS

“With FOOTBALL STOPPED and as a stimulus measure to The Fiver’s beleaguered letters section, may I suggest an injection of readers’ favourite matchday banners?” – Steve Gaw.



A strong entry. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

“The solution to how to end the season (Fiver letters passim)? Winner stays on. Start with the two bottom teams on the pitch, and the others on the touchline. When a goal is scored, the team conceding leaves the pitch. The scoring team takes on a fresh opponent, one place higher in the table, and the hijinks continue until all the teams have played, in inverse order of the table. Last team standing wins the league” – Paul Landaw.

“Neutral venues? A desire to rapidly complete the season with each team spending fewer minutes on the pitch? Attract forcibly entrapped casual viewers? It may finally be time to officially launch my long-gestating (yet somehow still non-patented) idea of Tri-football: Project 3Start. Triangular pitches; three goals, three teams and two footballs. What could go wrong? Other geometric shapes are available” ​– Rohan Mongru.

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 … Steve Gaw.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Germany is going to START FOOTBALL again with the Bundesliga resuming in the second half of May.

Manuel Neuer back in training with Bayern today.



Manuel Neuer back in training with Bayern today. Photograph: Lukas Barth-Tuttas/EPA

Serbia’s top two tiers will START FOOTBALL again too on 30 May, albeit in a rejigged format. Two tiers comprising 16 clubs each will play another four rounds of matches to complete the regular season, while championship and relegation play-offs have been scrapped. The Croatian first division will also resume without fans a week later.

Cadiz defender Rafael Jiménez is the first player in Spain not to return for training. “I will not play again if there is a minimum risk. If I have to leave football, I will,” he said.

Premier League club doctors have written to the Premier League expressing concern over potential risks to restarting the competition during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Chelsea’s Sam Kerr says the crisis has wreaked flamin’ havoc with career planning for Australia players. “There’s no room for injury now, which is stressful, there’s no room for time off, there’s no room for girls in our team getting pregnant,” she said. “I don’t know when I’ll get my next off year.”

And in what The Fiver can only describe as a turn up for the Companies House books, a loan that may or may not have been paid to Gretna in 2008 has deepened the controversy over plans to end the Scottish fitba season. Yup, it really has.

STILL WANT MORE?

Paul Doyle’s favourite game was watching Zoltan Peter come unstuck against USSR in 1986. The reason? He reveals all.

Juninho, Ravanelli, Emerson and co have agreed to play in a Middlesbrough charity match for victims of Covid-19. Louise Taylor takes a ramble through Boro’s exotic past.

The lads, just 23 years ago.



The lads, just 23 years ago. Photograph: Ben Radford/ALLSPORT

Which two footballers have played the most matches together? No, it’s not Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere. Here’s the Knowledge with the answer and more.

See how much of your brain is being used to store non-essential info by having a crack at this Premier League stadiums quiz.

And let this link take you to the best team of Serie A players from the 2000s, according to the Gentleman Ultra blog.

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

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