FRIDAY’S BIG HEADLINES

1. Dier charged

Some people are keeping themselves busy during a time of isolation by learning a new language. Some people are baking sourdoughs. Some are just trying to stop their kids from tearing the house down. And some are choosing this unique moment of social stasis to push through Football Association disciplinary procedures for an incident which, frankly, felt like it happened a lifetime ago.
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Yesterday afternoon, the FA announced it was charging Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier with misconduct following the incident when he clambered into the stands to confront a supporter and defend his brother after an FA Cup defeat to Norwich in March. A clear case of the FA being better off doing sweet FA for the time being.
Clearly Dier needs some form of reprimand for his behaviour, even if he was entering the stands to help defend his brother, who had been caught in some kind of argument, rather than going full Cantona. But was this really the time to pursue punishment against Dier for what was an aggressive but essentially non-violent act?
According to The Guardian:
Dier’s case is being treated as ‘non-standard’ by the FA – in other words, it is at the more serious end of the spectrum – and an independent regulatory commission will decide upon the Spurs player’s punishment. As with all non-standard cases, it will be evaluated on its own merits.
We are not in a normal situation any more but the FA is trying to plough on as normal, giving Dier until May 8 to respond. Presumably without recourse to meeting any club officials or legal representatives face to face. And presumably he can’t exactly request a personal hearing.
In fact, The Warm-Up has the perfect solution here. Impose a heavy one-month ban, starting today. Either that or a police warning for not respecting social distancing.

2. UEFA wants placings on sporting merit

Another governing body was busying issuing statements yesterday as UEFA informed the European leagues, and the wider world, what steps it wanted them to take when thinking about getting continental football restarted next season.
The key passage from the UEFA statement indicated that it wanted representatives in the 2020-21 European competitions, whenever they may start, to qualify via “sporting merit” – so no null and void seasons then. It also called for inventive solutions should this prove impossible under normal circumstances, including using a “different format” to settle champions and European places. Virtual rock, paper, scissors it is!

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A statement said: “The ideal scenario, should the pandemic situation permit it, is to have the currently suspended domestic competitions completed ... in their original format. Should this outcome not be possible, it would be preferable that suspended domestic competitions would restart with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit.”
However, UEFA did also say it would accept leagues being abandoned under two conditions: (a) if instructed by a government, and (b) as a result of “insurmountable economic problems”. The second may well apply to Scotland which could now end the Premiership season and declare Celtic champions. However, the UEFA statement does surely give hope to Liverpool that they will not have their almost-title snatched away from them.

3. Bundesliga back?

Robert Lewandowski, David Alaba und Alphonso Davies (v.l.n.r.)

Image credit: Getty Images

In somewhat remarkable news, the Bundesliga yesterday indicated it could return to action as early as May 9, armed with 20,000 coronavirus test kits, no supporters and plans which would involve 300 people attending each match, split into three zones: the inner zone, including players and coaches, the stand zone, effectively media, and then an outer zone in the area just around the stadium.
It may sound like a really bad series of the Crystal Maze, but it could mean elite football returning in FIFTEEN DAYS. Germany’s highly advanced nationwide testing means they are in a place to even contemplate a phased return, which would involve testing players before every match, and more on top of that.
Now all they need is for Angela Merkel to sign off on it…
"If we start on 9 May, we are ready. If it is later, we will be ready again," DFL chief executive Christian Seifert said on Thursday. "For us, what is decisive is what the politicians will decide. It is not for us to decide when. Games without spectators are not what we want - but at the moment the only thing that seems feasible."

IN OTHER NEWS

Premier League managers appear to be putting themselves to good use. Case 1: David Moyes
And Case 2: a suitably repentant Jose Mourinho, no longer flouting social distancing regulations by conducting kickabouts in his local park

S̶E̶L̶F̶ ̶I̶S̶O̶L̶A̶T̶I̶O̶N̶ UPDATE

xhaka

Image credit: Getty Images

While Mourinho appears to have learned his lesson, now it’s the turn of Arsenal to face unfortunate headlines about the inability of their employees to adhere to basic guidelines designed to keep people safe and reduce the strain on the NHS.
David Luiz, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and Granit Xhaka have all been spoken to by the club after images arose of all four of them failing to do their bit in the battle against coronavirus.
As reported by Sky Sports: “Pepe was filmed playing football with friends in North London, Xhaka and Luiz met up at a park in Southgate and Lacazette was photographed talking to a car valeter on his driveway.”

HAT TIP

The appointment of Phil Neville as manager of the Lionesses was shambolic. Not on the initial shortlist, or even longlist, rumour has it Neville’s name was dropped into the ring by a jesting journalist. As candidate after candidate fell out of the running, the Football Association’s handling of Mark Sampson and the increased scrutiny associated with the role putting some off, suddenly Neville was appointed. Unveiling a manager with no experience in women’s football raised eyebrows but was not necessarily a problem, in fact his lack of baggage within the women’s game was a plus. Giving the top job to a man with limited managerial experience was a much bigger problem.
Suzanne Wrack expertly gets to the heart of the mess the FA find themselves in regarding Phil Neville. Read the full article here.
Marcus Foley is back on Monday. Remember Monday? It used to be the start of what we called ‘the week’ before all days and events blended into one.
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