TRACEY CROUCH IS A FOOTBALL FANATIC (BUT HER PATTER’S ERRATIC)
Select committees are usually tedious affairs, and the one Tracey Crouch appeared before this morning was no different. But it is a slow news day, so let’s feign interest. Crouch was in front of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, you see, proselytising for her fan-led review of football governance, which makes several mild redistributive recommendations for the benefit of everyone, and has therefore been compared in some Premier League boardrooms to a year-zero purge, because this is the level of political debate in 2021 and we can’t have nice things. Not allowed.
To be fair to Crouch, she’s not taking this entirely rational response lying down, and today came out all guns blazing to fight for a scheme that would see, among other things, clubs paying a 10% transfer levy that would help those further down the food chain. Countering pushback from owners, Crouch pointed out that resistance would be “interesting because it was actually proposed by a Premier League club” and that “if, God forbid, the Conservative Party wasn’t re-elected”, harsher diktats would almost certainly be handed down by a “communist” government led by [Fiver adjusts glasses, squints] Keir Starmer.
Crouch also restated her belief that an independent regulator, given the power to performatively wag its finger in public, would “encourage growth and investment”, “enable confidence” and ensure “long-term sustainability … I don’t see it as an attack on the golden goose, quite the opposite”. Fine and admirable words, but Tories gonna Tory eventually, and it wouldn’t be a select committee appearance without at least one statement you wouldn’t dare make while not covered by parliamentary privilege. “West Ham could win the league,” Crouch insisted, in the time-honoured Conservative party-approved brazen through-the-teeth style. As the Fiver adjusted its ear trumpet, the committee responded with a perfectly timed theatrical beat.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Plymouth Argyle Football Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Steven Schumacher as our new First-Team Manager. Schumacher, 37, succeeds outgoing boss Ryan Lowe, who has resigned from his position with the intention of accepting a managerial role elsewhere” – in a nice bit of comms 101 Plymouth get ahead of the news cycle by announcing their new manager before revealing the old one has departed.
Get your ears around Football Weekly, here.
“As a country music fan I enjoyed the reference to Dolly Parton in Monday’s Fiver. Country has a long tradition of giving prominence to fiddle players, from Jerry Rivers of the Drifting Cowboys to Amanda Shires, with many others in between. It’s appropriate then that it was used to introduce a piece about Everton fans, whose protest at the imbalance between their amount of trophies and their sense of entitlement has many of us reaching for our tiny violins” – Ed Taylor.
“Regarding Seth Kleinschmidt’s concerns (yesterday’s Fiver letters) about Spurs players being too mentally and physically fragile to receive powerful hugs from their manager – I wonder if Conte has considered air kisses as an alternative? Or perhaps nicking West Ham’s on-pitch bubble machine, setting it to volume 11 and lining the player’s tunnel with a soothing layer of micro-bubbles to avoid unpleasant skin grazing incidents? He could also leave out in the dressing room a few complimentary gift vouchers for an introductory psychotherapy session. Might help with some of those unresolved chairman-won’t-let-me-go adjustment issues” – Steve Malone.
“The Hall at Dewsbury (yesterday’s Fiver letters) would indeed be well worth a visit, being over 700 years old – circa 1298 – and built next to the Saxon Minster church of St Paulinus. Sadly it was demolished in the enlightened 1960s as part of a ring road scheme” – Richard Lee.
“Daniel Kennedy’s Dewsbury-Hall reference reminded me of the occasion when a colleague queried, whether the Fulham/Villa I had attended at the weekend, was National Trust” – Jon Algar.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’ the day is … Steve Malone, who bags a revised and updated version of Richard Foster’s Premier League Nuggets. We’ll give a copy away every day this week, and it is available to buy here.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Tottenham are facing a tricky time of it after a Covid outbreak at the club.
Jude Bellingham has been fined €40,000 after his “You give a referee who has already match-fixing the biggest game in Germany. What do you expect?” venting in a TV interview about the referee Felix Zwayer after defeat to Bayern at the weekend. “The player of the Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund has already agreed to the judgment, the judgment is now final,” 1984ed the DfB.
Mateo Kovacic returned to Chelsea training on Monday but tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday. He’ll be quarantining on Wednesday. And on Thursday and Friday and Saturday.
West Ham’s Kurt Zouma is facing three months out with hamstring-ouch.
The Premier League is to trial a saliva test to diagnose concussion in players.
STILL WANT MORE?
Jonathan Liew + Football Governance + Chinese Communist Party = Excellent Reading.
Ben Fisher tells the story behind Firewall FC’s Football League survival fight.
Richard Jolly on a night of dissent and joy at Goodison Park.
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