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The Fiver | Deflecting blame for the shameless rip-off of diehard football fans

PAY PER BROUHAHA

The Fiver didn’t get where it is today by charging readers £14.95 to read random editions of the world’s most daily football email. While we’re hugely confident most would consider a Pay Per View Fiver to be cheap at twice that already prohibitive price, we acknowledge that in these trying times many households are finding the financial going a little tough, and it should go without saying The Fiver has an important role to play in boosting global morale in any way it can free of charge.

It will, of course, come as no great surprise for readers to learn that the famously venal and grasping Premier League feels no such compulsion and will roll out the first of its new series of PPV matches on Saturday, when Frank Lampard’s Chelsea host Southampton and Newcastle entertain Manchester United. Yes, folks … for the princely sum of £14.95, fans who already pay a prohibitively expensive subscription fee for the privilege of watching watered-down, Premier League biohazard-era football with no crowds can now watch Frank Lampard’s Chelsea manager Frank Lampard looking haggard, mournful and forlorn as his team of wingers concede another goal on the break. Or stump up to see Harry Maguire (knack-permitting) trip over his feet in the face of yet another mesmerising Allan Saint-Maximin soft-shoe shuffle. Alternatively, they can not bother, do something more productive with any spare money they may or may not have, then wait a few hours for free highlights on Match of the Day instead.

No stranger to defending the indefensible, mainly because it’s his job, Premier League chief suit Richard Masters has defended his organisation’s outrageous price-gouging of UK-based customers by saying it is – and you really couldn’t make this up – “defensible”, apparently hoping none of them will check to see how much it costs to watch games in foreign countries where it is invariably much, much cheaper. “We’re not the price-setters, but obviously we were fully aware of the prices when we committed ourselves to this service,” he honked. “The main thing is, is all fans still get to watch all Premier League matches while we’re behind closed doors.”

Of course that is not the main thing at all and Masters knows it, which is why he was so quick to deflect blame for the shameless rip-off of diehard fans by his own organisation to others that are no less greedy. He has also conveniently overlooked the fact that top-flight football was only allowed to restart after lockdown on the condition all matches were shown live on TV. We didn’t have to pay £14.95 for the privilege of watching them then and there is no earthly reason why we should have to do so now.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We had no positive cases, no one was ill and we were made to say we couldn’t play and I was livid. I am still livid. I understand that the EFL acts cautiously, but there has to be some justification to it and not just based on falsehoods and accusations from another football club and them kicking off. We have been tested again this week because of this and we have had them all back, players and staff – all negative. I bet there are not many EFL clubs that have been tested twice in two weeks, that is for sure. That makes it even more disgusting because we were ready to play a game of football on Tuesday and for whatever reason, someone didn’t want to play” – following criticism from counterpart Karl Robinson, fresh and funky Crewe boss David Artell suggests his team were strong-armed into getting their midweek League One game with Oxford postponed for a second time.

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England see red, Scotland soar and Big Picture fades

FIVER LETTERS

“Re: lemmings and ‘by way of gravitation they tend to move downwards’ (yesterday’s Fiver). They don’t actually do that. The myth was spawned when Walt Disney dumped a load of them off a cliff out the back of a truck. Well, not him personally, as he’d have been busy strike-breaking” – Steve Allen.

“Following on from Justin Kavanagh’s new nickname suggestion for ‘Euro-champions-elect Scotland’ (yesterday’s Fiver letters), it was very disappointing to see Big Website missed someone out in its article on the top 10 Euro 2020/21 contenders. Or was this really just an article on who is going to be the runner-up?” – Stuart McLagan.

“Re Edward Dean’s assertions that ‘engulfing an opposition player in a thick cloud of ink could prove to be the next big thing in tactics’ (yesterday’s letters). It might already be with us, since I think that’s how [Snip – Fiver Lawyers] dealt with their recent [Snip – Fiver Lawyers] at the [Snip-snippety-snip – Fiver Lawyers]” – Derek McGee.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Stuart McLagan.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

FA chairman Greg Clarke admits he was involved in formulating a document that advocated the introduction of B teams to the EFL and the creation of a Premier League 2 in early talks over Project Big Picture. “As the discussions progressed I and others were unhappy with the direction of travel in terms of major redistribution of money and power to bigger clubs,” he tooted.

Fans or not, Pope’s Newc O’Rangers winger Ryan Kent has still got the battle fever on for Saturday’s Old Firm derby at the Queen’s Celtic. “I expect the intensity and the aggressiveness in the game to still be there,” he roared.

Neil Lennon and $tevie Mbe collide again on Saturday lunchtime. Photograph: Getty Images

With Gareth Bale set to make his Spurs debut against West Ham on Sunday, José Mourinho reckons chairman Daniel Levy has been a stand-out star of the transfer window. “Mr Levy showed once more that, when he is really involved, he is a genius in the way he makes deals happen,” he tooted. “We were talking about different targets but I never thought we would go so far as we did.”

Herbie Goes to Barnsley is not an unwanted reboot of the franchise, but a possible headline after Liverpool’s Herbie Kane signed a four-year deal with the Tykes.

And Brazilian Serie B strugglers Cruzeiro have pulled the Big Phil Scolari lever in an attempt to avoid a second successive relegation.

STILL WANT MORE?

Chris Hughton is enjoying being Forest’s 14th permanent manager in 12 years: “It’s a good feeling to be manager of a big club,” he tells Ben Fisher.

Manchester United must change things after being paddled 6-1 at home, plus nine other things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend.

Here we go.
Here we go. Composite: Shutterstock; Getty Images; Arsenal FC via Getty Images; AFP via Getty Images

“Reid … Stevens … looking for Sharp …” Steven Pye looks back to 20 October 1984, when Everton arrested a grim derby run to ignite their title charge.

Gareth Southgate’s faith in England’s class of 2018 is showing diminishing returns, writes Jonathan Liew.

Jacob Steinberg gets rightly judgmental about those taking part in England’s recent triple-header, moving them into winners and losers columns.

Teenage kicks: the Manchester United cover version.

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

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