|AFC Bournemouth 0 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 17th October 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Let me paint you a picture – Preview
Friday, 16th Oct 2020 12:30 by Clive Whittingham
As QPR return from the international break with a tough looking game down at Bournemouth, there is at least some good news on the horizon with a benevolent rescue package on the table from long-time champions of the Football League, Manchester United and Liverpool.
Bournemouth (3-1-0, WDDLWW, 3rd) v QPR (1-2-1, LWLDD, 9th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday October 17, 2020 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey >>> Dean Court, Bournemouth
In a 2020 growing more horrific by the day, some blessed, long overdue relief from an unlikely source: Manchester United and Liverpool have come to save us. Thank God. It was looking hairy for a moment there.
The offer - a long-overdue and much-campaigned-for greater share of the Premier League’s vast television revenues for the EFL, and £250m of “free money” right now to get us through these desperate times. Pure, icy cold water, condensation dripping down the bottle, slipped gently into the parched palm of a league that was already crawling on its hands and knees through a desert of financial mismanagement even before China Crisis reformed as a grandparent extermination outfit.
In return? Some bits and pieces, sure. A reduction in the number of Premier League teams from 20 to 18, for example. But then it was only ever meant to have 18 teams in the first place, and do Rochdale, Cheltenham Town and Newport County give a single shit if the Premier League has 18 or 20 teams in it? They do not. Adjustments to the promotion and relegation picture, so a club that’s taken its £200m annual Premier League windfall and spent it on a team that finishes third bottom of the league over a 38 game season gets another chance of a reprieve through the play-offs. But then that’s how the play-offs were originally conceived, and do Port Vale, Plymouth Argyle and Carlisle United give two hoots whether the Championship play-off line is drawn after fifth or sixth? They do not.
Any port in a storm. Waves starting to lap over League One and Two heads, final breaths being taken, water clogging lungs, and now suddenly a lifebelt. Thrown from an unlikely source, I’ll give you that, but there’s no time to check the small print when you’re lost at sea. Besides we have the cast iron assurance of our own EFL chairman Rick Parry, who you may remember from such films as CEO of Liverpool, to sooth any latent concerns and worries. “The thing that has to shine through is the passion that Liverpool and Manchester United have shown for preserving the pyramid, and the relevance of Leagues One and League Two. That is the most rewarding aspect of all of this,” he gushed. Steady on Rick, there’s a puddle forming.
Coming soon, Rick Parry’s Everglades Swimming Tours. After 86 million years of trying to eat you, now the gators want to be friends.
If you believe that, and this, and him, then frankly you deserve to be eaten alive. And that’s exactly what would happen should “Project Big Picture” ever weedle its way into our sport (not theirs) in any shape or form. The wants and desires of the “big six” clubs in this country are fundamentally, diametrically opposed to just about everything your Football League club needs and relies on. The problem with Chelsea and Manchester City lecturing us on “the big picture” is their big picture is substantially different to our big picture. It’s like Jeff Bezos trying to “big picture” an independent book store in Hebdon Bridge. Human beings have more in common with a bottle of Toilet Duck than Rotherham United do with Tottenham Hotspur.
They’ve already shown it. They’ve already shown it by forcing EPPP upon us under threat of meagre revenue share being withdrawn. Now a Category A academy (i.e. them) can waltz into a Category B or lower academy (i.e. us) and take any teenager they half like the look of for compensation amounting to a bag of Monster Munch. So passionate are they about “preserving the pyramid” that they’ve literally made the £1m QPR received from Liverpool for Raheem Sterling, and subsequent £10m more when he moved to Man City, illegal. Clubs including Brentford, Wycombe and Huddersfield have decided running academies at all is simply not worth the hassle under those rules and lo and behold, in amongst aforementioned small print of Project Anal Mace, is a clause saying League One and Two youth set ups are “optional”.
They’ve already shown it, by forcing their U23 teams into the EFL Trophy, again through the medium of a financial ultimatum they knew destitute clubs would have to bend to. A competition that used to be about giving Walsall a chance of a nice day out at Wembley is now a bloated mess and professional clubs playing against youth teams, privileged little boys with their Maserati’s and zero first team appearances taking the opportunity of a stoppage in play to rip the piss out of men scratching a living at Scunthorpe about how much money they earn. A competition that recently drew 74,434 people to Wembley to see Coventry v Oxford wrecked by some Yew Tree person-of-interest that looked at that afternoon and thought what it really needed was Southampton’s U23 side involved somewhere along the line.
B Teams in League Two weren’t explicitly included in this week’s proposal, but you didn’t have to much scratch the surface. In amongst it… a relaxation of loan rules that meant EFL teams could, should they so wish, borrow far more players from the Premier League to replace the ones they were no longer producing from the youth systems it was no longer worthwhile them having. Man City’s CEO Ferran Soriano coincidentally chose this week to say that the EFL in its current form is “unsustainable” and must introduce B teams. The EFL Trophy debacle should make clear the EFL would be better off going semi-pro than populating itself with the hoarded masses of clubs with more players than they know what to do with, but this is the direction of travel, this is what they want, they’ve wanted it for ages, and the idea that we can trust them not to insert into us forcibly as part of Project Jalfrezi Enema is fucking laughable.
EFL clubs allegedly in support of this monstrosity need to be seeing some big pictures of their own. This is a deal in the same way setting fire to nanna to heat her living room in lieu of a proper winter fuel allowance is a deal. Even this pig-in-lipstick sent tottering out this week, presumably as the PR’d version they were hoping might garner support, had some obvious horrors other than those already mentioned. League Cup gone – and all the revenue it brings clubs other than ours who do actually progress in it. Two clubs from the Football League gone, into the non-league world, to accommodate the reduction of the Prem to 18. Well nobody noticed or did very much about Bury or Macclesfield I guess so what’s another Grimsby or Stevenage on the pyre if it creates space for Arsenal v Malaysia Select XI?
But most of all, and I do mean most of all, the egregious part of this, and what it’s really all about, was the voting rights. Just about the only thing the grotesque behemoth upstairs has going for it at the moment is that every club within it gets an equal vote, so when Man City and Chelsea and Man Utd suddenly quite like the idea of using five substitutes every game to try and provide some match time for the 65 players they’ve bought for no reason at all, the rest of the league can just say “don’t be so silly” and it doesn’t happen – as was the case a couple of months back. It’s also the thing that has, for now, protected us from this latest monstrous power grab, because they quickly convened a meeting on Wednesday and agreed to agenda point 1.1 Stop Being A Dick by way of a majority. This was always likely – why would Sheffield United vote for less say, less money, and fewer places in the Prem? – which is exactly why they want to get rid of that system and exactly why it’s imperative it stays.
This is what it’s really all about. Rick Parry’s Everglades Swimming Tours admitted as much when he let slip “they are frustrated that they get outvoted ... how can Huddersfield have the same vote as Man United? How can Blackpool come up and abuse their one stay in the Premier League and have the same vote as Man United and Liverpool?” I mean, personally, I would have thought the chairman of the EFL should be championing and protecting the idea of Huddersfield getting an equal say as Manchester United, because he’s the chairman of the EFL, and represents Huddersfield and not Manchester United, but perhaps Rick Parry’s Everglades Swimming Tours forgot himself for a moment and thought he was still on the payroll at Liverpool. Hi Rick, down here mate, you’re with us now. Where’s that light and whistle for attracting attention when you need it?
Perhaps we could test their “passion for the pyramid” by agreeing to every single one of the proposals put forward by this wolf with a sheepskin rug over its back, except the voting rights. You can have everything, we agree to the lot, but not that, they stay as they are. If this is all a legitimate abandonment of a policy and approach dating back 35 years, and a genuine altruistic concern for the little guys, they’d be happy with that wouldn’t they? Wouldn’t they? Rick? Sorry, it’s us again. Wave your arms around everybody, he hasn’t seen us.
Change those voting rights, give the power to the “big six”, and you see how much “passion” they have for the pyramid then. They want fewer domestic games, so they can play more European games, with an engorged Champions League already heading down the pipe for 2024. That means fewer Premier League places, fewer Premier League games, fewer chances for plebs like us to accidentally end up there for a bit. They want to play more money-spinning exhibition games on converted baseball diamonds in Tokyo and San Jose, and less cakewalks in the rain against the mere likes of us. Again, they’ve already shown this to you. Project Gimp Suit explicitly has in the small print more time in the calendar each year for their foreign tours, and when they were finally offered the winter break they so craved last season, at the expense of the FA Cup, they refused to sign a contract stating they wouldn’t use the “rest” period to fuck off to the United States and play New York Fizzy Pop at Yankee Stadium. None of that, none of that, is good for us, or any other mid-range Football League team that dare harbour ambitions of one day playing in the top flight. They don’t want you there. A box, and the TV rights, for Liverpool 4-0 QPR sells for substantially less than a crucial fourth Anfield meeting of the season with Paris SG.
They want B Teams, they want academy monopoly, they want competitive matches played in Dubai. It’s all there. It’s all out there in the open. In their actions and their interviews and the steady, ongoing, 30 year creep of the Premier League, eroding the sport in this country as we know it. The only thing holding back the tide is the chuffing voting rights so while Forest Green Rovers may not think it matters a single jot to them whether Crystal Palace get an equal say in what happens at the top table or not, it matters a great deal. Even a cunt as cunty as Richard ‘The Cunt’ Scudamore knew this and pushed back against any attempt to change it. That’s where we are now, Richard Scudamore is the good guy, and this government - this government - is able to put out statements taking the moral high ground against our sport.
The voting rights are crucial because the thing they want most of all… the thing they want most of all… is the opportunity to sell their television rights themselves. Again, they’ve already shown this. As the Premier League’s revenues from foreign TV deals equalled and then surpassed even the gross sum they get from Sky, BT and Amazon in this country, so the bully boys stamped their feet and waved their arms and wrestled a thicker share of it. If you’re kicking back in a Goa beach bar or Singapore airport or a Long Island clam shack you don’t want to be kicking back in a Goa beach bar or Singapore airport or a Long Island clam shack with Burnley v Fulham, or Palace v Newcastle, you want to be watching Man Utd v Liverpool, or Chelsea v Arsenal, and they know it. It irritates them when Burnley take a relatively equal share of that money regardless. Already in the small print of “Project Survive The Winter By Cutting Off Your Own Arm and Eating It” is a clause that says were the ban on televising games in this country at 15.00 to be lifted, the rights for those games would revert to the clubs to sell and not be part of a Premier League bundle to flog en masse to one broadcaster. Just a week ago it was announced games not currently selected for broadcast will now only be available to long suffering supporters still not allowed in stadiums on a pay-per-view basis at £14.95 a time through Sky Box Office. They are hiding in plain sight. This is the worst episode of Poirot ever.
What Manchester United – a club with an official tyre partner, an official wine partner, an official spirits partner, an official global lubricants partner (useful for when they’re shoving Project Big Picture into Oldham Athletic), an official gaming partner, an official digital transformation partner, an official vision partner, an official coffee partner, an official global mattress and pillow partner, and an official electrical styling partner – want to do is go to China, India, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Dubai, America, Canada and everywhere else and one by one tie up individual deals with whichever broadcaster bids the most in that territory to show their games. They’d make an absolute fortune, and they know it. They all know it. Tottenham, again coincidentally, emerging today as the favourite team of South Korea, where 20% of a sport-mad, technologically advanced, rich, developed nation now identify as Spurs fans. Daniel Levy would have a lovely old time over there playing the local networks against each other for rights to their games I’m sure. The only thing stopping them is the voting rights.
Put the voting power with them, let that genie out of the bottle, and I give it two cycles of Premier League TV rights deals at most. And then what? When the Premier League package left for Sky and BT and their like to bid on is just dregs of Southampton v West Brom on a Monday night? Well then the 25% of Premier League television revenues the EFL got as part of “Project Rubber Fist” would be 25% of fuck all. Twenty five percent of fuck all, minus the £250m we’ve been offered now, of course. Oh, didn’t they mention that? The “free money” is actually just an advance. See if that keeps you warm at night in 2026/27 when all you’re left with to look forward to is a shellacking at the hands of Manchester City B at Glanford Park in front of whatever few sad sacks still care enough about a quasi-Premier League reserve division to troop out and watch it instead of just sticking the 15.00 kick offs on the TV in the warmth of their sitting room.
Project Big Picture? We should send them one of our own back in a frame, of our collective arsehole. Still just about intact. For now.
Links >>> Bournemouth’s new normal – Interview >>> Say Cheese – Podcast >>> Bedfordf’s astonishing goal record – History >>> Brooks in charge – Referee >>> View from the Pu – Column >>> Bournemouth official website >>> Bournemouth Echo – Local Press >>> Up The Cherries – Forum >>> AFCB – Blog
Geoff Cameron Facts No.108 In the Series - At school they taught Geoff how to be, so pure in thought and word and deed. They didn’t quite succeed.
Team News: Warbs Warburton expressed frustration/fury at Scotland manager Steve Clarke after Lyndon Dykes was required to start all three international matches during the break. Whether that means he’ll be benched with a full debut for Macauley Bonne as a result remains to be seen. QPR were still trying to add a left sided defender to their squad at press time with the transfer window closing this evening, though an unlikely move for Cardiff’s Aden Flint fell flat earlier in the week and he’s gone to Sheff Wed instead. The Athletic’s Daniel Taylor has linked us with a seemingly equally unlikely loan move for Fulham Michael Hector after his nightmare start to the Premier League season. Ryan Manning is being linked with Swansea as his contract saga rumbles on. Paul Smyth is set for Charlton and Conor Masterson will follow him out on loan if another defender can be secured in his stead.
Bournemouth have already lost Nathan Ake, Callum Wilson, Aaron Ramsdale and Ryan Fraser amidst a host of big names and were on the cusp of selling Josh King to Everton on deadline day. David Brooks looks more talented than all of them to me but remains at the club at the time of writing with numerous injury problems holding him back – he withdrew from the Wales squad with his latest knock during the week and is therefore a doubt for this one. Former Bristol City man Lloyd Kelly remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Elsewhere: The Championship’s ongoing pleas for a Covid-19 financial bail out of some sort will not have been leant a lot of weight by some of the behaviour that went on during the transfer window. Cardiff City, for example, said to be losing £3.5m a month and screaming for government money less than a month ago decided to pay £1.2m to Liverpool just to borrow Harry Wilson for the season. They play at Preston Knob End on Sunday lunchtime.
Derby, who’ve come up with a succession of controversial workarounds on FFP to allow themselves to continue spending more money on more footballers, including getting a bookie to help them pay for Wayne Rooney, loaned out Jack Marriott to replace him with 34-year-old Colin Kazim Richards in a week when they took out another loan leveraged against their training ground and chairman Mel Morris was all over Five Live saying a bail out was urgently needed. They’re at Watford in the Sky game tonight with pressure on manager Phillip Cocu after one win in four games to begin with.
Sheffield Owls, starting the season minus 12 points after previous FFP breaches and seeking to borrow more money against their Hillsborough stadium this week, added not only Marriott but also Cardiff’s Aden Flint, who was earning so much the Bluebirds were willing to swallow a chunk of it just to cut him, and tried hard to the tune of £25,000 a week to get Kenneth Zohore on loan from West Brom. They’re at Birmingham City.
Even Grimley Colliery Band have been spending money, with £1.2m spent to secure Herbie Kane on a permanent deal from Liverpool ahead of their game with Bristol City – manager Gerhard Struber walked away from the club last week to move to the MLS saying the board’s ambition did not match his own. A couple of Struber’s Austrian signings were promptly returned home and Callumm Brittain promptly signed from MK Dons signalling a return to their technique of buying young, English talent from Prem academies or lower divisions.
Luton Town signed Joe Morrell from Bristol City prior to a home game with Stoke while Yannick Bolasie and Danny Rose were among the pricey names being linked with the Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour before their home game with the early Championship surprise package Reading – four wins from four. Were they, or Bristol City, to make it five wins from five this weekend it would be only the second time it’s been done at Championship level following Cardiff in 2017.
Swanselona satisfying their fetish for QPR left backs takes them into a home match with Huddersfield while big spending but faltering Norwich go to Rotherham - a game you can see on a big screen on the pitch at Carrow Road from the side stand, but of course you can't sit in the same stand in the same way next week and watch their next home game live. Wycombe hunt a first win, point, goal and shot on target at home to Millllllllllllll. Spartak Hounslow will almost certainly be the best team Coventry City have played all season, particularly with Said Benrahma apparently failing his Friday medical at West Ham ahead of a £25m move. This a medical that Jack Wilshere once passed, remember.
And as Fulham’s Anthony Knockaert prepares to become Nottingham Forest’s fourteenth signing of the summer window (Loic Soh, Scott McKenna, Luke Freeman, Lyle Taylor, Fouad Bachirou, Nikolas Ioannou, Jack Colback, Tyler Blackett, Cafu (not that one), Miguel Guerrero, Cyrus Christie, Harry Arter, Abdoulaye Diallo) we wish them a safe trip for their Saturday game away to free-scoring Blackburn.
Referee: John Brooks, a referee with a weird grasp of what is and isn’t a penalty, is in charge this weekend – his first Bournemouth game, and first QPR match since last season’s annual hammering at Brentford. Details.
Bournemouth: The Cherries won only two and lost nine of their final 13 games in the Premier League last season but have, unlike Norwich, succeeded in turning that form round over the truncated close season, despite only making one signing and losing a whole clutch of big names and earners. They’re unbeaten in the Championship without, as yet, playing particularly well. Blackburn were beaten 3-2 here on day one and Norwich have also lost 1-0 at Dean Court while a 1-1 was secured up at Boro and a 3-1 televised win at Coventry in the final game before the international break. In the League Cup they beat Premier League Crystal Palace on pens after a 0-0 draw, and were then beaten 2-1 at Man City. Only Blackburn (11) have scored more than Bournemouth’s eight goals so far.
QPR: The R’s started with a 2-0 home win against Nottingham Forest, achieving a clean sheet at the first time of asking have spent 21 matches trying to get one the previous season. They haven’t won since though with a 3-2 loss at Coventry followed with 1-1 draws against Boro and Sheff Wed. Rangers have faced a league-low nine shots on target in their four games so far, but conceded from five of those, hence a change of goalkeeper has already been made. Lyndon Dykes has been directly involved in seven goals in his last 11 games for club and country (six goals, one assist).
Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. The squad is updated and you can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last season’s champion Mase offers us this…
“Bournemouth have made a good start to the season and overpowered Coventry in the only game I've seen them play so far. Their relative ruthlessness up front will be the deciding factor here. In any case, I'm looking forward to seeing more of our new players settling in, and hoping my poor start to the prediction league continues.”
Mase’s Prediction: Bournemouth 2-0 QPR. No scorer.
LFW’s Prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 QPR. Scorer – Albert Adomah
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Letters from Wiltshire #27 by wessex_exile
Welcome to 2021, and hopefully a vaccine-driven start to a much better year for everyone – which as you can guess was going to be my introduction two weeks ago. From a selfish perspective, hopefully an improved year for the U’s as well that sees us cement at the very least a play-off spot, but why stop there – don’t mess around with the lottery of play-offs, go straight for it with automatic promotion (who am I kidding). First up in that quest is a tough match against Tranmere Rovers Cambridge United, and no longer with Chuck to help us out. Still, set up for Jevani to put one over on his former club.
Letters from Wiltshire #26 by wessex_exile
Well, after a piss-poor Xmas period so far for the U’s, culminating in the Roots Hall horror show on Boxing Day, let’s hope the U’s have burned off those festive calories and are raring to go. They’ll certainly have to be at their best against a Cheltenham side aiming to force their way into the automatic promotion places. In other news, we now finally have confirmation that there will be a trade deal in place with the EU once Brexit arrives in 2021. It remains to be seen whether it’s a good deal or not, and more to the point, who for, but at least it’s not the economic uncertainty of no-deal.
Letters from Wiltshire #25 by wessex_exile
A little earlier than usual, but as we approach the end of what has been a most difficult year for everyone, I’ll keep the introductory editorial brief, as I’m sure you will all be very busy in the coming days rescuing what you can from this pandemic-ravaged festive period. I simply wish you all peace on earth, goodwill to all (yes, even our South Essex cousins), and here’s to a happy, prosperous and most importantly healthy 2021 for us all.
Letters from Wiltshire #24 by wessex_exile
Welcome to our last match before Christmas. With South Essex going into Tier 3, by the time we take to the pitch at Roots Hall, it’ll be another behind-closed-doors match. With the Tier 3 boundary creeping inexorably closer, one wonders how long the JobServe will hold out and still be able to allow fans to attend. Robbie is doing all he can to make it possible for supporters to attend, and I confess I’m seriously considering our January 2nd match against Tranmere. In other news, I’m relieved to read that the FA will not take disciplinary action against Colchester United after a shameful minority chose to boo players and officials taking the knee, in the words of the EFL “as they highlight the inequality and injustice experienced by the Black Community”. I noticed a tiny minority chose to boo at our mid-week match at the Abbey Stadium, but I was pleased to hear they were immediately drowned out by the remainder of the 2,000 cheering and applauding. I admit I’m a little anxious about today…
Letters from Wiltshire #23 by wessex_exile
As I’ve been providing updates on the ongoing US presidential election, it is worth mentioning that the Electoral College votes have now been cast, which formally confirms Biden as the new President-elect. Normally a formality, as the losing candidate has usually long-since conceded defeat, but these are far from normal times, and America has far from a normal lame-duck President. Still, at least the threat of members of the Electoral College ignoring the popular vote in favour of an outcome demanded by Trump has failed to materialise. In the UK, new Covid tiers were announced this week, with London going into Tier 3. Colchester stays in Tier 2, but only just, with as far north east as Maldon, Braintree and Chelmsford also moving into Tier 3 – and as if you need reminding, Tier 3 means no supporters at matches.
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