WHITE HART PAIN
With Tottenham Hotspur on top of the Premier League just a year after his decision to appoint José Mourinho as manager made him the subject of much eye-rolling and mockery, chief suit Daniel Levy had every reason to wake up feeling smug this morning. Or even more smug than usual. Having been told by assorted armchair experts and daily football emails that Mourinho was a cranky, contrarian has-been who football had finally passed by, Levy could clap himself on the back after Tottenham’s smiting of Manchester City, crow about how he’d been proved right and point out that the rest of us wouldn’t know good management material if it had once performed an embarrassing body-pop on the Wembley touchline.
On the contrary, it was a decidedly morose Levy who revealed the shock news that having a [email protected] new 62,303-seater stadium you’ve not been allowed to open to the paying public for eight months because of a global plague tends to put a large dent in your income. Furthermore, the uncertainty of not knowing when you’ll be able to welcome fans back means extra losses which will lead to “an irrecoverable loss of income”. To think Marcus Rashford is wasting his time trying to feed starving children during a pandemic, when he could instead be helping poverty-stricken Spurs.
“We are currently in the midst of one of the most challenging times ever experienced,” said Levy, dabbing the corner of his eye with a balance sheet that Spurs had posted a £63.9m loss for the year ending 30 June, compared to profit of almost £70m in the 12 months previously. “The impact of the pandemic on our revenue is material and could not have come at a worse time, having just completed a £1.2bn stadium build which is financed by club resources and long-term debt.”
While the new regime of austerity at White Hart Lane 2.0 became all too apparent when Levy, who got by on £7m last year, could only scrape together enough to sanction the acquirement of six players for his manager (£15m per annum) in the transfer window for north of £100m, his heart will have been gladdened by news that football stadiums will be allowed to let some lucky (or unlucky, in the case of Newcastle) fans in from 2 December.
A maximum of 4,000 supporters will be allowed at outdoor sporting events in the UK’s lowest-risk areas come the end of lockdown, while up to 2,000 will gain entry in tier two areas but none in tier three. Based in trendy north London, Spurs should be allowed to dot the maximum allowed around their Enormo Dome, a state of affairs which, while going some way towards keeping the wolf from the door, will present a whole new set of problems when it comes to deciding which of their 42,000 season ticket holders to disappoint.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“English football specialist Alan Pardew will henceforth be part of the big red family of the Army. [He] will help with his vast experience and contacts in the overall development of the club and attracting players. Welcome to the Army, Mr Alan Pardew!” – CSKA Sofia announce their new dad-dancing technical director while leaving the definition of ‘football specialist’ open to interpretation.
“You say Mourinho cranked the whine up to nine (Friday’s Bits and Bobs), but surely he cranked it down to nine? I’d assumed he’d outdone Spinal Tap and instead of going up to 11 he just started there and went further. Mou whining at nine actually sounds pretty low key”– Robin Hazlehurst.
“Pep Guardiola’s team had ‘70% of possession and took 26 shots but lacked width and penetration, then got caught on the break’ and lost … back in 2008” – Noble Francis.
“This is something I’ve been wondering about for a while now – just what is it that makes Proper Football Men like Justin Kavanagh so convinced that tying your hair up on the top of your head must take hours, if not days, of focus? I’m so bad at concentrating that I’m writing an email about people writing emails about a football match instead of getting on with work; and yet still, every day I manage to wrap a bobble around my hair with no very little fuss. Perhaps being 107 is making him a bit doddery? Whoops! Meant to send this to the MBM, not Fiver Towers. Doubtless it wouldn’t have happened if I had a nice sensible short back & sides” – James Humphries.
“Living in Australia, I’m flamin’ disappointed that you are not sending out prizes for overseas letters. I looked it up here – and it only costs a Fiver to send a 2kg package to anywhere in the world. (The aim is 12 weeks to get to Australia – by rowing boat perhaps?) Anyway, surely this is fate and this UK-centric bias should immediately be stopped and the rest of us have a chance to get some random prize, however long it might take to get here” – Mark Jones.
Pep, Pépé and penalties
Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen https://audio.guim.co.uk/2020/05/05-61553-gnl.fw.200505.jf.ch7DW.mp3
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Head of African football Ahmad Ahmad has been banned for five years after a Fifa investigation into misappropriation of funds-knack.
Leeds and Arsenal released statements condemning abuse directed towards Ezgjan Alioski and Nicolas Pépé online after the players clashed during their sides’ goalless draw at Elland Road.
Jürgen Klopp lost the run of himself and channelled Kings of Leon after Liverpool’s impressive 3-0 win over Leicester. “The boys were on fire,” he warbled. “We played an incredible game against top, top opponents.”
Ronald Koeman has had to rest Lionel Messi for Barcelona’s 3-0 win at Dynamo Kyiv. “Sometimes you need to protect the players,” sniffed Koeman, as he tucked Messi up in bed. “The amount of games they need to play is crazy.”
And former chairman of Wrexham Supporters’ Trust Peter Jones offered a pithy review of Ryan Reynolds’ best-known film when asked for his thoughts on the club’s new co-owners. “I’d never heard of either of them. I’d never watched Deadpool,” he parped. “Then it came on Channel 4 the following weekend. I started watching it and I thought ‘What a load of sh!t’. It wasn’t my cup of tea.”
STILL WANT MORE?
There was no need for Milan’s coaching staff at Napoli as Big Zlat was around, writes Nicky Bandini.
Werder Bremen and their niche Bundesliga record. Andy Brassell explains.
Premier League talking points, a whole 10 of them.
Monaco’s comeback win over PSG was a triumph for Niko Kovac, whoop Ligue Urrrrn aficionados Adam White and Eric Devin.
Can they not knock it? Paul MacInnes on how the shock of Wrexham being bought by A-listers was followed by the utterly unsurprising news that they plan to make a fly-on-the-wall documentary.
Just what are Arsenal? Jonathan Liew asks a most pertinent question.
There are some solid soup strainers in this gallery of football’s finest moustaches.
Liverpool showed they could still mix it in winning against Leicester, reckons floating football brain in a jar Jonathan Wilson.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!