The Fiver | Playing on behind closed doors in the world’s largest prison yard | Football


Perhaps because they live down under, where day is night and night is day and everywhere is incredibly far a flamin’ away, Australians might think they’ve nothing to worry about when it comes to coronavirus because they have always lived in a state of permanent self-isolation from the rest of the world.

While dunderheaded Britons were still swarming their local parks, streets and supermarkets despite being warned not to do so, The Fiver’s Antipodean cousin G’Day Strewth Mate Unfair Dinkum Fiver sent us a selfie of himself sunbathing without a care in the world on Bondi Beach over the weekend, in which he appeared to have been joined by at least half the population of Sydney who had congregated en masse for an extremely ill-advised day by the seaside.

While sport has been shut down in almost every country in the world bar a few notable exceptions, in the world’s largest former prison yard they’ve been playing on behind – no pun intended – firmly closed doors. For example, our mates in the Flamin’ A-League have been playing on regardless, with Melbourne City taking on Newcastle Jets in the kind of eerie silence The Fiver last experienced when we attended a Melbourne game at a three-quarters empty stadium where crowds had actually been encouraged to go along.

Despite their desperation to conclude their season to fulfil their $56m (£1.75p) contractual obligations to Fox Sports, the jig now looks very much up for the A-League. With the imminent closure of assorted state borders the already financially parlous Football Federation of Australia is worried its deal will be cancelled and it’ll be broke. One harebrained scheme to hurriedly relocate all out-of-state teams to New South Wales and let them play out the remainder of the season there has already been torpedoed, on the grounds it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment for all the players involved who might not want to be (a) exposed to the virus by having to play football matches or (b) forced to spend extended periods away from home. Sensibly, the suspension of all football activities is now expected on tomorrow, which would really be today if Australia was located in a more sensible part of the world.


“[Pope’s Newc O’] Rangers would come away with an awful lot of credit if they were to say ‘[the Queen’s Celtic] have been worthy champions, you have a massive lead’”– we’re sure John Hartson means well really.


“I’ve just watched the first episode of The English Game on Netflix and I have to ask – when you had been on the Tin a few months ago did you commission Lord Julian to write it as part of your Stop Football campaign? Apart from the kid from Shameless who has become the captain of t’mill team and has a stick on moustache with a personality all of its own, it also stars Danny Ings! And not only is he now the goalkeeper of the toffs team, but he is also President of the FA! OK, so apparently the producers claim it is not that Danny Ings but a proper actor who prefers to go by Daniel, but that massive beard isn’t fooling anyone. Can a re-make of Escape to Victory be too far away?” – Alex Folkes.

“Until recently, footballers around the world were trying to hit the back of the net. Now, they’re reduced to trying to hit the back of the Netflix catalogue. Where I live, kids have been out of school for a week but it feels like a Fortnite” – Peter Oh.

Even if, like me, you’ve seen this many times before or those of you who may not have ever watched it, this I’m sure will give you half an hour of cheer (unlike the Fiver). Golden” – Graham Franklin.

“How bored am I without football, reduced to watching top teams playing computer games? Maybe the pros who are chasing a spiky blue hedgehog need the Stockley Park lads to adjudicate. Bring on OUR SONIC VAR. Yes, I worked out that anagram of Coronavirus. That’s how flippin’ bored I am” – Mark McFadden.

“I’m happy that Charlie Austin has recovered from what appears likely to have been Covid-19 and look forward to the next rendition of this internet classic. It’s a good tonic for these times” – Gareth Rogers.

Here’s a clue to the link above.

Here’s a clue to the link above. Photograph: Royal Mail/PA

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 … Gareth Rogers.


Massimo Cellino, the Brescia president, has called for the Serie A season to be cancelled. “It is time for realism … this is the plague,” he said.

Mikel Arteta has been talking about his positive coronavirus test that sparked the shutdown of English football after Arsenal announced they have put training on hold indefinitely.

Former England striker Gary Lineker has entered self-isolation after his son George displayed coronavirus symptoms. “They’re not the regular ones, but complete loss of sense of taste and smell. Odd these have not been pointed out much,” wrote Lineker, who said he checked the information with a doctor.

Liverpool stewards are volunteering to help with crowd control and assisting the elderly with their shopping at supermarkets. “They are truly the best in the business,” said Peter Moore, the club’s chief executive.

And over 170,000 fans watched Marco Asensio be really good at a computer game – and it raised £129,000 to help fight Covid-19.


Enough of this epic delusion: coronavirus makes football in front of fans a long way off, writes Sean Ingle.

There is anger in Liverpool over why 3,000 Atlético fans were allowed to leave a city preparing for lockdown to travel to Anfield, reports David Conn.

Suzanne Wrack warns women’s football is on the rocks and some players may be cut adrift.

Barry Glendenning pays tribute to a drinking buddy from his local boozer as he celebrates the beauty of radio in these troubled times.

Look back on Chelsea v Nasty Leeds in the 1970 FA Cup final replay, as it happened in our new series of retro MBMs.

Playing football in an empty stadium is like listening to music without bass, sighs Kyah Simon.

Today’s archive offering is a belter: On second thoughts … Italia 90. By Rob Smyth.

Italia 90 vibes, right here.

Italia 90 vibes, right here. Photograph: Henri Szwarc/Bongarts/Getty Images

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


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