With all football matches from the top down to grassroots and school games postponed last weekend, fans of the game with no interest in cricket, golf, horse racing, rugby union, rugby league or any of the other sports that went ahead without had to seek their fix elsewhere. Some went shopping, some went to the pub, some were just meditating at home, recovering from the VAR-related omnishambles of the Premier League of the previous weekend.
Queen Elizabeth II was not a huge football fan. That July 1966 afternoon, when Bobby Moore wiped himself down before shaking her gloved hand as she passed him the Jules Rimet trophy (per the photo), was actually the last football match she attended before the Euro 96 final aside from the 1973 and 1976 Cup Finals. After 1976, it was left to others to hand out the trophies at Wembley until, latterly, Prince William, an unlikely Aston Villa fan, became the royal family’s football face. Among the late Queen’s first year of engagements was her attending and presenting the trophy at the 1953 FA Cup final, the Stanley Matthews Final – Blackpool 4-3 Bolton – perhaps the greatest of all.
With no live games to show, Sky Sports quickly launched a four-part mini-series, The Queue, did you catch it? It took the real-life experiences of football fans waiting to get into the ground on a Saturday afternoon, and moved the characters to Westminster Hall, recreating the love, community, and friendship, starring some real-life football stars and actors. Graeme Souness played the part of a grumpy Scottish Nationalist, intent on stealing the Stone of Scone back to his homeland (again), whilst Michael Sheen was a passionate Welshman, getting ready for the World Cup – here’s a clip of his speech on a TV show Michael Sheen.
Steve Coogan played the role of a deranged Man C fan who falls for a Man U fan and buys her an ice cream while waiting. They begin with violent disagreements but end up holding hands as they leave Westminster Hall. Roy Keane plays himself; he’s come down from Manchester on the train with Micah Richards, but he’s already fed up with Micah’s irritating laugh and there are 17 hours still to go in The Queue. He goes and buys himself a coffee and some kind of muffin, a diet coke, and a cinnamon swirl for Micah. It costs him £28 and back in The Queue he goes on and on and gets a bit emotional at London prices.
Gary Neville plays an awkward Royal loving Manc wierdo who is strangely enduring but is intent on arguing Americans have no right to be in The Queue and gets feisty with Todd Boehly, playing himself as owner of Chelsea Cowboys franchise. It was getting a bit tense until Sean Bean, playing a friendly policeman on duty on his last day before retirement, calms everyone down. I’m sure I saw Hugh Grant in one episode stood silently holding a Paddington Bear stuffed toy, but I could be mistaken. If you missed it, it’s available on catch-up TV. Sky have said a second series is planned but we’ll have to wait until the next time the entire schedule of football is postponed in an over-the-top mark of respect for the passing of our head of state.
Meanwhile back in the Moneybags League, Todd Boehly, the newest dude on the block who embarked on a wild spending spree, throwing obscene amounts of money at things he didn’t really need, sacked his Big Cup-winning manager (which cost him £15m in severance) and appointing Graham Potter as Chelsea’s new manager on a spanking five year £50m contract. Note to self: retrain as a football manager.
Bored now, Boehly has called for the Premier League to launch a US style North v South All Star Best Players Championship Mega Playoff Money-Spinner match. Everyone likes the idea of more revenue for the league. I think there’s a real cultural aspect, I think evolution will come he fog horned. Ah yes, just what this country, with its Brexit, culture wars and hot button debates about the role of the monarchy, another polarising dividing line drawn arbitrarily through it.
He doesn’t wait long, quipped Jürgen Klopp, eyebrow up, when asked about the scheme. When he finds a date for that he can call me. In American sports these players have four-month breaks. Does he want to bring the Harlem Globetrotters as well? Oh Jürgen! Pipe down, for goodness’ sake, you’ll only be giving him more ideas. Todd’s not really thought this through, has he? A major question to be resolved is for which team the Midlands-based players at Villa, Wolves, Leicester, and Forest be selected.
However, we are about to see the tenth US based owner of a Premier League club with the £150m takeover at Bournemouth by Bill Foley, owner of NHL franchise Las Vegas Golden. So, half the clubs in the league will be US owned, with Arsenal, Chelsea, Villa, Palace, Fulham, Leeds, Liverpool, Man C and Man U all have Americans who have a majority or minority shareholding. As the Glazers and Boehly confirm, it’s all about the revenue generation and cash extraction, so it won’t be long before the majority of owners are US based and the spectre of franchised teams, games overseas and the razzmatazz of their no-relegation sporting culture is applied to the Premier League.
Back in the world of real football, Weymouth goalkeeper Ryan Sandford, on loan from Millwall,made this ridiculous quadruple save during their National League South game at Bath. Unfortunately, it didn’t impact the result as they lost 2-1.
Gameweek eight sees a reduced fixture schedule with six clubs kicking their heels – Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd, Leeds, Brighton, and Palace. Is it time to play your wildcard? Putting your starting XI team together this week is going to be tough. Your wildcard is likely to be so much more valuable to you later in the season, either to cover a trickier blank gameweek or to help you take advantage of a double gameweek when numerous clubs will have two fixtures. So, if you have to take a couple of points hits on transfers just to get to nine or 10 players in your line-up then I think that’s the way to go. Hold that thought.
Pope, Trippier and Isak at Newcastle will be popular choices as they start a run of games where it looks like they could do well, and the same goes for Mitrovic at Fulham who has scored six goals in six games. Re-signing Alexander-Arnold might be more awkward unless you are prepared to let go of another prolific full-back like Reece James or Joao Cancelo.
It feels foolish to back against Haaland at the moment as he’s either scored or had an assist in every game played, but it could be a way to start climbing the rankings if you pick the right week to do it. Don’t forget he won’t play in gameweek 12 with Arsenal v City postponed. The first international break of the season is on the way next week so the advantage of holding onto your wildcard until gameweek nine is that you will be able to react to any injuries, and you are also not compromised in picking those players who do not have a fixture this weekend. And breathe….
All this sounds as if I know what I’m doing, but frankly despite having a degree in mathematics and doing numbers as an accountant for a living for many years I have a poor grasp of statistical relevance. I gravitate towards whimsy which, as far as I know, has never been accepted as a branch of mathematics. What I do understand is the scarcity heuristic: the more difficult it is to acquire an object, the more valuable we perceive it to be. In fantasy football, this can be observed when we overvalue expensive players and undervalue cheaper options, all to add up to our £100m budget.
Due to the late postponement of gameweek seven, Fantasy League have issued an update:
- Anyone who played their Free Hit, Triple Captain or Bench Boost chip for gameweek seven’s postponed matches will have had them automatically reinstated.
- Any Wildcards played prior to the gameweek seven deadline will be rolled over into gameweek eight.
- Normal rules apply to transfers across gameweek seven and eight.
Transfer deadline is 630pm tonight. Enjoy the weekend!