There’s no escape - Fans forum
Thursday, 25th Jun 2020 23:08 by Clive Whittingham
The club held one of its semi-regular fans forums in digital form this evening, with Lee Hoos, Les Ferdinand and Mark Warburton providing insight into transfer budget, team selection, behind closed doors football and that fans forum staple – the water pressure in the ladies toilets.
These are strange times. We’re obligated to say that now when we talk to each other, usually over Zoom. “Strange times aren’t they?” “Very strange.”
“How’s your lockdown?” We ask that a lot as well. And, of course, “hope you’re well”, but not in the way we used to when we just wanted to make the person think we cared enough for them to respond to our email. Now we really mean it. Hope you’re well. Genuinely, hope you’re well.
We talk a lot about “the new normal”, which is sort of like the old normal but with less Northern Line. There’s more to it than that to be fair. You can’t do the pub for a pint, but you can do Halfords for a replacement part for your bike. You have to queue until Sainsbury’s isn’t too crowded, unless Sainsbury’s is on Bournemouth beach and then you can do what the fuck you like. Protest marches fine, football matches not fine. Jostling opponents at corners fine, sitting on the bench with your teammates without a mask and a two metre gap not fine. Eleven-a-side professional football fine, 5-a-side amateur football not fine.
It’s a tricky and complicated time. It’s difficult to keep up with exactly what you are and aren’t allowed to do, or supposed to be allowed to do from one moment to the next. One minute there’s a police drone up shaming you for having a bit of a sit down in the park at the end of your road, the next minute it’s fine to drive a family that actually has the bloody thing from one end of the country to the other to stay with elderly relatives, visit the local hospital and enjoy the odd drive out to a crowded tourist attraction.
What we need in these times is certainty and familiarity. And so it was with nothing shy of an absolutely stonking hard-on that I was able to greet the return of the much-loved QPR Fans Forum tonight with a first question for the ages. Yes, this may be a global pandemic. Yes, upwards of 50,000 people may be dead. No, we may not have been to Loftus Road for three months and counting. Yes, it’s very unlikely we’ll all be back there any time soon. But when we were before, and when we are again, when the funeral pyres are extinguished and the mass burials have eased, when you can see grandma again without fear of killing her, and board the Jubilee Line maskless without fear of exploding into a million pieces, when, for the love of God, will the water pressure in the Ellerslie Road toilets be sorted out? Sorted out once and for all.
Chief executive Lee Hoos seemed to approach QPR with caution at first having been warned repeatedly that the place was a fucking viper’s nest but now seems to jovially see us for the absolute small-time loons we are. He has happily drunk the Kool Aid and energetically goes along with the whole bin-on-fire QPR nonsense and it was he who took on the issue of issues. So we begin, not for the first time, our forum minutes in the Ellerslie Road toilets. Lee Hoos is LH, director of football Les Ferdinand is LF and first team manager Mark Warbs Warburton is MWW.
LH: In regards to that it was one of the first things I noticed when I came here. We did revamp every single lavatory over there but in terms of increasing water pressure you’d have to dig up the mains and everything else. It’s a major undertaking we can’t afford to do, and it would require quite a bit of cooperation with neighbours in terms of turning off water supplies and reconnecting to the mains. It would require a complete relay. It’s not a simple fix, we have to work superficially as best we can with what we have. If there’s another way to get extra water in there we’d do it, but as it is we can’t relay the mains.
LF described the coming months as “heading into the unknown” when quizzed on transfers in and out, adding…
LF: “There are players you want to bring in, we’ve had scouts watching 200-odd games while they’ve been off, but you have to see them live and we can’t do that at the moment. We don’t know what this will bring in terms of transfer values – Chelsea spent £50m last week so hopefully the ones we have to sell the price will be high and the ones we want to buy will be cheaper.”
“We’d love to keep Bright and Eze. In an ideal world we’d like to do that and build on what we’ve got but good players will attract attention and we’re pleased our players are attracting attention. We’ll try hard to keep them but we’ll see what comes up in the summer and where we are.”
And before you lose your shit too much about that, LH was asked about the Tune Group’s ongoing commitment to the club given the problems their businesses are facing and he painted a stark picture.
LH: “The owners write a cheque every month to keep this up and running, without them we’d be up the swanny. It’s not a small amount either, it’s around £1m a month just to keep the club afloat. We wouldn’t be here without them because there’s no income coming in. Their commitment has been extremely strong. There’s no sign of diminished commitment. The club cannot survive a day without owner funding. Without it we’re into administration.
“I have been impressed with how everybody has pulled together through this. The owners write the cheques, the whole staff have taken pay reductions, the players have taken a wage deferral, the fans have done what they could in not reclaiming the season ticket money. The QPR family has come together and done its part. That’s a big positive, it’s brought the club and the ownership together and we’re going in the same direction.
“It (the pandemic) affects every budget. Right now difficult to budget. Right now we’ve usually sold season tickets for next year, we’ve got sponsorship deals done, we know revenue streams and we can project. Right now I don’t know. Will it be an empty stadium? 25% capacity? 40% capacity? Any sort of crowd there? It’s impossible to budget right now other than EFL central payments. It could have varying degrees of sponsorship and ticket revenue. There’s a broad spectrum of how much we could have available. It’s fundamentally affected football. Some clubs are in worse conditions than us and praying every month for this to just please go away. Luckily we do have the ownership behind us keeping it afloat. Fingers crossed at some stage we’re back on our feet with revenue streams up and running.”
LF: “Throughout recessions, credit crunch, football has always thrived and gone from strength to strength. This is the first time we’ve seen a situation where it affects all the businesses of people who run football clubs. The whole of football is praying for normality. Everybody who calls me at the moment says the same thing: ‘we know what we’d like to do but we don’t know what we can do.’”
There were several questions along the lines of when fans might be able to come back, and whether the club would be supportive of starting next season without us…
LH: “It’s completely down to government guidance. It can come pretty quickly with not a whole lot of notice - I’d like that - but it’s down to them. It’s a great sign they’re opening pubs and gyms. Touch wood if the R-rate doesn’t run away you can open up stadia and venues. My public information broadcast would be: when you’re out, wear the mask. Do everything you can to reduce the risk. The only way we’ll get back to normal is by taking care of each other.”
MWW: “We can all agree it’s nothing without fans but we have to have small steps in the right direction. The more we can get the game back to normality the better. We have to see some revenue coming in. We have to move in the right direction to get the game back. It’s the same for every team - so different, a new normal. No pre-match meal, different changing room, no substitute cards. The teams that adapt best and are most flexible are the ones that will succeed.”
On season tickets for next season…
LH: “We haven’t decided what’s going on with next year. We keep pushing back the deadline. I can’t tell people when it will start, how it will work, when you’ll be allowed in stadium. When we know that we’ll make a decision.”
Hoos said that 65% of current season ticket holders had waived their rights to a refund for the remaining games. For the other 35%, if they haven’t heard back and been refunded already that will happen “very shortly”.
Warburton was taken to task good and early about Saturday’s dire comeback against Barnsley at Loftus Road. An initial point was made that I’d wondered about myself regarding QPR not taking advantage of the newly expanded substitutes bench rule, naming seven instead of nine and not using the full five. The prospect of Under 23 players taking those bench spots, and what it will do to their morale leaving them vacant instead, was raised. Great question, prize from the middle shelf. And a great answer to be fair, which I hadn’t been aware of. For all the piss taking, that is the value of these forums and direct communication…
MWW: “The Under 23s are furloughed. The staff as well. The club has done what it has had to do. We’ve taken two or three of the younger players with us – Faysal (Bettache), Joe Gubbins and Charlie (Owens) – to join us in the first team squad but because of the medical situation they joined us early and stayed with us. There are no U23s at the moment. The training group is just a small first team squad and every medical measure has been taken to look after the playing squad.
LH: “The ones who are around first team are fine to go into the first team like Charlie and Joe but the rest of them have more to do and it won’t benefit them to bring them into the first team right now. There are some who might have been ready for the next step but because they’ve been out on loan they can’t play for us right now. People like Niko (Hamalainen) coming back, it would have been nice to play them but we can’t.”
Returning to an asking price for Ebere Eze…
LF: “As much as somebody will pay. We haven’t set a price ourselves, we don’t want to sell. We know we’ll get offers and we’ll see what happens when the time is right. People say don’t let him go for cheap and we’re not looking to let go of him cheaply that’s for sure. One of my first interviews when we were getting rid of players I said let’s hope in future people are having a go at me for selling our best players. We’ve turned that corner. Luke Freeman went last year for money. We’re trying to build something but we know if we build something and players are doing well they’ll get poached by other teams.”
Asked about planning for next season, whenever and however that is…
MWW: “It’s unknown right now. We don’t know when the new season will start. We don’t know about the window. We don’t know where the dust will settle on the value of players. We can’t spend what we haven’t got so we have to wait and see in terms of players leaving the club what we can reinvest and what goes to the long term future of the club. Right now, too much is unknown, we deal with what we know and then deal with problems and issues as we come to them.”
Grant Hall came up, and again very reasonably it was asked why he couldn’t have played against Barnsley and Charlton given he was paid up to June 30. Middle shelf, etc etc.
MWW: “Players look at options. We make offers to players and have to find out what level we can offer players, what we can and can’t afford. That takes time. Players look around at their options and have to look after their families, their careers are relatively short and haver to do what’s best for them and their family. If the player is not happy with our offer then we part ways, hopefully amicably. It’s a question of timing.”
LH: “You can’t force a player to play, they’ll find a way not to play if they don’t want to play. If somebody has their eye on the exit what is he going to contribute in a match for us? He might be thinking ‘I can’t get injured because I’m out of here in a week’s time’. It’s not specifically about Grant Hall, it’s any normal human being, they’ll be protective and their mind might not be where it needs to be. It’s a strange situation. It’s a global pandemic. We’re trying to finish a season at a time when you’d normally be having conversations. We’ve got to the last week of June trying to reach an agreement, we’ve tried and unfortunately there are games taking place now and after June 30 into July.”
LH clarified that the late timing of the Pugh and Hall releases were because conversations over new deals were still ongoing and could have gone in a different direction up to the point they parted ways.
LF: “With the loss of Grant Hall we have a couple of good youngsters, like Joe Gubbins, coming through, but they need a bit of time. A right sided centre back would be somebody we are looking at. To start with we weren’t looking to replace Hally but unfortunately we now have to and that is one of the positions we’ve been keeping an eye out through this period trying to find the right person who can come in and play alongside Barbet but at the same time not stunt the growth of the boys coming through at the moment.”
MWW: “Conor Masterson is a young boy who has done exceptionally well. He stepped up earlier in the season and played some big games. He was thrown in at short notice and showed his quality and character, he played through a nasty injury and again showed the desire to play for the first team. Young players like Conor and Joe need time and development, they’ll have good days and not so good days and our job is to help the development process. We need more senior players to come in and help that development process. Conor will get some games now, vital games which will be enormously beneficial for him, and I’ve no doubt he’ll take that opportunity.”
I’m recommending this piece of music as we go into chat about Bright and Manning’s contract negotiation. There’s also an hour-long version on YouTube, should you so require.
LF: “We’ve been trying with both Ryan and Bright to get them to sign new deals. They’re looking at the situation and where they are in their careers, what’s best for them. We have been trying. Sometimes you can’t get to the deal you want to get to, that’s the circumstance we’re in at the moment. We have been looking at other options in both those positions. Mark and I have had conversations and will continue to have those conversations about where we need to replenish but at the moment it’s all up in the air what’s available and what can be done.”
Bear with. Warbs is about to get a bit angry. Told we need a new goalkeeper he say…
MWW: “With the greatest of respect…” I don’t think that’s the case is it? “…it’s not the goalkeeper against the entire opposition. We defend from the front. If our forwards close down and we defend in the right shape and our midfield is tight and we press then it doesn’t get to our goalkeeper. We defend and attack as a team. That’s a little bit unfair on the goalkeepers. We’re always looking at what’s available and if it’s better than what we’ve got and fits our budget and adds value to the balance sheet then we’ll look to move, always. But it has to be value for QPR.”
LF: “Can I just come in there as well…”
Hold up, Les is moving forwards in his chair. He looks fucking immaculate by the way. Thirty degrees, everybody else looks like a sack of shit on a hot day, Les looks like somebody you’d vote for. Anyway…
LF: “…I know Joe at the start of season didn’t have the best of times and Liam has come in and taken his place, but I remember when Eze came back from Wycombe and did really well then the following season he wasn’t so good and people said 'you need to get rid of him, he’s not good enough'. Young players have ups and downs. Joe’s had a bit of a down, but I have no doubt Joe will be a top goalkeeper and he will come back. Sometimes you need to give them an opportunity, and when he first came back from loan everybody was talking about what a top goalkeeper he was. All of a sudden he’s had a bit of a lull as young players do and now we’re saying he’s not good enough. We need to sometimes take our time, give them an opportunity to have a few bad games. I know it costs us at times but that’s what football is about. I totally understand how difficult it is at times, sometimes there are managers who don’t quite fancy what you’re doing at a particular time. When Joe has been out on loan he’s done exceptionally well, when he came back into the side everybody was raving about what a top keeper he is. He’s had a dip in form. It’s normal. Not just because he’s a young player, senior players have dips in form as well. Sometimes we need to get behind these young players and give them the gee-up they need.”
Anyway, while I’m cleaning this up here’s some stuff about signing a striker to call our own…
LF: “It’s the key position. There are not a lot of them about. We need another young one we can get hold of and work with but that takes a bit of time, there’s not an abundance of players that can come in. That’s why we’ve gone down the route we have bringing in senior players from Premier League sides who are not playing who can tide us over. At the same time we’re always hoping to find that one we can mould to be our own.”
MW: “When you go into a new club the first thing you should ask of people like Lee and Les is what represents success. What’s me and the team doing a good job? Is it a league position, is it developing players, is it a cup run…” best not be that, fuck me “…what does the club want from the manager? I think young players have come in, been asked to step up and stepped up. We’ve had to lose a few players right from the very outset, moving senior players on and reducing the budget of the club. You always want more but I think it’s been steady. We’ve let ourselves down a few times as a team and a squad, but I think we’ve shown real quality at times as well. We keep building, keep developing players, we recruit shrewdly when we can.
“If you keep the players, or if they leave on terms that are value for QPR, we have to keep developing the squad. A lot of young talent has stepped up in big games and responded well. But we need one or two more in key positions, we know that. We need to recruit shrewdly, and we will do, a lot of coordinated work going on. It’s a difficult market, we have to move at the right time with value for QPR. It’s easy to say let’s just go and get him, we can’t afford those players. We have to move for players we can afford and who represent value for the club.”
Daddy, what did Chris Ramsey do during the war?
LF: “I think the position we’re in as a club it’s important to have somebody like that working with the first team manager so they know who’s coming through. It’s an important link the way we’ve gone, vitally important to make sure the communication is right. When we go out to look for players if we have a right back coming through and we have a senior one already then if we’re bringing another one in it can only be for a short period of time because we don’t want to stunt the growth of the one coming through. Chris and Mark had a great relationship before he got the job so that helps.”
LH: In the 2016/17 season we had 46 appearances over the course of the season from academy players. 2017/18 we had 53. 2018/19 we had 134 appearances. Already we’ve exceeded that. You can see the academy starting to produce results and we have a manager who knows how to work with and develop young players. Everything is starting to come together and getting the results we want from the investment in the academy.”
MW: “It’s about the club communicating with fan base, talking them through players, emphasising there will be good days and bad days. Young players have to show they have development potential to impact QPR’s first team – if it comes in six weeks, six months or a year and a half that’s our job. The worst thing you can do is throw a talented boy in too early, damage him permanently. Chris will feed into us what he thinks about players, we’ll watch them, have them with us around first team, see how they react, see how they deal with intensity of training, if they get on the pitch for 15 or 20 minutes how do they respond, how are they went they sit on the bench, all these small details are part of development. We’ll plan for each individual player. Not every single boy can make it. It’s a tough profession.”
Osman Kaky, Deshane Dalling, Ody Alfa, Charlie Owens, Niko Hamalainen, Lewis Walker and Charlie Owens were all raised as possible for the bench against Barnsley and not selected. Warbs is cross again.
MWW: “Osman Kakay is unavailable through injury. Two of the players are furloughed. Another one is injured. None of those mentioned were available for selection last week. If they had been, do you not think I would have put them on the bench?”
LH: “With Dalling he’s one of the players who’s been out on loan for the season, and once they go out on loan they cannot play for us for the duration of the season. The only way they can play, there is a rule change that has gone through earlier this week, but you literally have to be down to no players available who’ve ever made an appearance in that position before you can bring that person in to play again. I cannot see a situation where Dalling would have a legitimate shot under that rule because of the players in front of him.”
QPR Twitter/Facebook bullshit rumour alert. Is it true the U23s weren’t given a training programme to follow during the lockdown?
MWW: “Absolutely not. The work done by the staff at first team and academy level has been outstanding. The first team came back in really good shape, great credit to the sports science staff, but also at academy level. Great communication between the departments. The boys have been given outstanding programmes, road work, core work to do. It’s difficult for them without interation on a day to day basis. It’s a challenge but the work given to them was first class.”
LF: “Just because the boys were furloughed, they were still given programmes. They had programmes before the furlough, and during the furlough period. As a professional footballer it’s down to you. It’s not like it used to be, coming back a stone overweight, the boys that have been furloughed have had to stay in shape in case we could take them off furlough and want them to join in with first team.”
Quickfire questions submitted on the FacePaint during the session included: something about scouting…
LF: “We’ve added a few scouts to what we’re doing. We have a few more abroad. Domestically we’ve increased our quota up north. We need to increase in the south east and we’re looking for the right people to bring in. Unfortunately we’ve just lost our German scout so we’re looking to replace him.
Something about Jack Clarke…
MWW: “We need options. We only named 18 of 20 because that’s where we are. We all expressed our concern at coming back after such a short period. We have injuries, we have players playing four games in ten days, we’ll need every single players. Mide’s impact was excellent in the second half on Saturday. These young boys are fit, they’re working hard, they’re ready to make an impact. We’ll undoubtedly use the whole squad.
Something about whether Aramide Oteh has been released into the wild…
MWW: “We’ll see all the young players. We’re seeing how they work, formation wise with one up top. They’re working hard every day, their attitude is first class, the overall commitment is first class, desire to get in the first team is first class. They’re pushing every day.
Something about how you motivate players with nothing to play for… (Warbs is cross again)
MWW: “It really galls me that question. Every time you put a shirt on there’s something to play for. We speak about academy boys looking at the first teamers and aspiring to be that player, that person, pulling on the shirt, playing at the stadium. If you cannot get motivated as a professional footballer you shouldn’t be in the profession. I hear that many times and it kills me. If you’re not giving 100% you shouldn’t be on the pitch.”
Charlton are hard working, good blend of youth and experience, plenty to play for, that sort of jazz.
MWW: “We’ve got a point to prove. We let ourselves down on Saturday, particularly in the first half. We’ll rise to the challenge.”
Off the pitch
New stadium klaxon.
LH: “A new stadium is a very long way away down the timeline. The Linford Christie Stadium is a site we’re interested in, it’s a co9uncil project and they’re still going ahead with that. They’re still doing consultations, they’ve contacted us via video conferencing for our feedback on things. With a pandemic going on it’s moving very slowly and I don’t see it picking up speed any time soon. The process is always thorough but now in addition to thorough there’s a pandemic. They have a consultant going over the survey, which indicated an interest in having a professional sports franchise there. Now they need the business case to support that. The consultants will try and establish a business case. Not a short process, they’ll interview a number of people, we have input into the process, but we’re completely in their hands.”
New training ground klaxon.
LH: Ealing Council have been great and we’ve supported them every step of the way at Warren Farm. We want to continue to support them. It always was a sports facility, it should be a sports facility, it’s important for the community a sports facility is built there. In the interim there was an opportunity to enter into a purchase agreement with another party on a ground. We felt with the lease running out this summer we couldn’t afford to wait. We’re saddened we couldn’t proceed at Warren Farm and we’ve invested a lot of money in there, the opportu nity to have the freehold of a site is very attractive to us. There’s a non-disclosure agreement in place with that party, I don’t think I’ll be in breach of it by saying it’s literally with the lawyers now. They’re going to dot is, cross ts, charge me for things I don’t think really make a difference, it’s that dvanbced right now. Very, very, very, very, very soon an announcement on that.
Somebody who pays attention writes – QPR’s were involved in property development at Old Oak Common and said profits would go to the football part of QPR, is that still the case? Steady on Poirot.
LH: “By QPR we mean Ruben (Gnanalingam) our shareholder, no money has come from the club whatsoever. The we is Ruben. What he said was he would take the profits from this and sylo them for a new stadium. One, the building isn’t finished yet there’s not much by way of profits. Two, we don’t have a new stadium. That’s where it is. Otherwise Ruben keeps funding the football club.
Investment in Loftus Road in the meantime? Roof over the Paddocks? Bring an umbrella.
LH: “We looked at roofing everywhere. It’s not just a matter of doing an extension, it’s major structural work to support an extension. To be quite honest, especially now with the economic circumstances, I don’t expect to see anything by way of capital expenditure on stadium infrastructure for quite some time. Right now it’s about making sure the club survives and the owners keep putting money in to tide us over.
“When you have an owner whose business is low cost airlines where the margins are so low and they’re grounded it’s a major concern. To be fair to him and Ruben they’ve stuck by the club and made sure we’re funded. They’re both fighting their own battles out in Malaysia trying to keep their own businesses going. Luckily Malaysia is ahead of us, they’re getting flights back which is good for Tony, Ruben is coming back with the port and everything. We’re very much connected with what’s going on out there. Right now they’re the lifeline for this club.”
Have you ordered from the online shop? Have you not received goods, lost money, banged your head against a brick wall trying to get a response? Yeh. Don’t blame you. Neither does LH…
LH: “It’s indefensible. I’ve spoken with the commercial director today. We outsourced the fulfilment of our mailorder and to be fair when we switched 18 months ago they’ve been brilliant up until Covid-19. I know they had to furlough a bunch of staff but you can’t blame Covid-19 for everything. For me there’s absolutely no excuse for not responding to people. Even if it’s bad news, and you’ve furloughed your staff, you can still get people working from home to respond to people. I wasn’t pleased about that at all. They’re our guys, we hire them to do it, that’s our reputation on the line. I apologise. We’ve brought back Katie, one of our retail staff, from furlough this week to get stuck into it. She’s very, very competent and will make sure everything is up and running. She’s been in contact with pretty much everybody who’s had an issue. If you have had an issue and not heard from us now, please contact us again we have somebody whose job is dedicated to making sure these things are resolved.”
LH: “We’ve looked at how our socially distanced stadium might work. Queue management is a big issue. Queueing for food and beverage, queueing for toilets, entering and exiting the stadium, all of these are issues. It could be designated times of arrival. It could be holding some sections back from leaving.
LH: “Congratulations to the media department and the fans (on the streaming of the Barnsley game). There were a lot of problems other clubs had on Saturday at 15.00. We got it out there early people had to test and renew before Saturday. By Saturday morning the rest of the Championship had an average redemption rate of 47%, we were at 81%. That’s why we had fewer issues and complaints. Thank you to everybody who didn’t wait until the last minute.”
“Nothing decided for next season. The only reason we’ve been able to do streaming instead of season ticket refunds is with cooperation of Sky and the EFL. A lot of people get on Sky’s case because they move kick offs, but in fairness they’ve played a big part in allowing this to happen and have done the right thing by football. Next season until we know start dates, whether we’ll have people in the stadium, what the broadcast deal looks like, I can’t answer the question.”
Following the recent online ‘kit world cups’ LH again pointed out that Dennis the Menace is a poor seller, and the pink kit was the best selling away kit we’ve had for 15 years. Once I’m dead, I will haunt every one of you who bought one.
LF: I’m pleased with the way we’ve played this season. Credit to Mark and the coaching staff for the type of football we’ve played as well. At times we’ve played some exceptional stuff. Most supporters would say that most weekends they go home happy with the way we’ve performed. Tough circumstances, we had to get rid of senior players, reduce the wage bill again, but the boys that have come through the door have proven themselves worthy. Week in week out they give it their best. On occasions we don’t win, and looking back three or four teams took us to task this season, but most of the other games we lost I look at them and think we should have won. We’re making good progress and we want to keep the nucleus of the squad together and build on what we’ve got.
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Letters from Wiltshire #09 by wessex_exile
There’s enough doom and gloom about concerning the coronavirus pandemic to last several lifetimes, and let’s face it, 2020 really does suck. I’m pretty sure we’re all in need of some positivity right now, something to set our sights on, a goal if you will. Mine came to me in a blinding flash of inspiration as I prepared my wake-up mug of caffeine this morning – never, in all my years of following Colchester United, have I got even close to watching every single match of a season. I suspect I’m not alone in that, even diehards like noah must miss the occasional one or two each season. Kind of thanks to coronavirus (bizarre huh) and the relaxed approach to match streaming on Saturdays, I’m currently on 8/8, today being the 9th. Why not, I thought, make it all season without missing a game? There’s a lot of ifs, buts and maybes in that, not least if we do emerge from this crisis before the end of the season and the streaming gets canned, but for now I have my goal…
Letters from Wiltshire #08 by wessex_exile
Lots of discussion this week on football forums, including here, on two subjects – the petition to lobby parliament to allow limited numbers of supporters back into football grounds, and of course the return of that old chestnut from Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano, introducing Premier League ‘B’ teams into the EFL. First off, I don’t mind admitting I’ve signed the petition ( https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552036 ), as have 192,779 others at the time of writing, though I don’t actually think it’ll make any difference. I can completely understand why some do not think this is a good idea, as second-wave spikes of coronavirus infection pop up all over the country (mainly because – let’s face it – some people are dicks and can’t be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet). But to me, the two go hand in hand (not dicks and toilets) – whilst football clubs throughout the country struggle financially without spectators, we are always going to be under threat of this sort of ‘B’ team nonsense as a condition of financial support from the Premier League fat cats. They got their way in 2016 with the EFL trophy, who’s to say they won’t again when the financial squeeze really starts to tighten its grip without paying customers through the turnstiles? Robbie has featured prominently in this debate in recent weeks, and looks like he will again on Sky tomorrow if this tweet from Sophy Ridge is anything to go by -
Letters from Wiltshire #07 by wessex_exile
Welcome to Matchday #4 everyone, with the U’s making a reasonably solid start to the league campaign, undefeated, two clean sheets, only one goal conceded and sitting comfortably just outside the play-offs. I’d probably feel more comfortable if we were scoring a few more at the other end, so it’s good to see Chuck getting back into action. The big news that’s grabbing most of the column inches now is of course that President Trump is in hospital with coronavirus. Now there are many out there in the social media world who consider this somewhat poetic irony, given his (mixed) messaging on the subject since the crisis began, and there are more than a few wishing that it ends very badly for Trump. I’m not one of them, but I was reminded this morning of a famous quote “I have never killed anyone, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction”. Often misattributed to Mark Twain, it was Clarence Darrow in his 1932 work The Story of My Life. For those, like me, who consider Inherit the Wind probably the best courtroom drama ever made, Darrow was the lawyer in the real Scopes Monkey Trial.
Letters from Wiltshire #06 by wessex_exile
Here we are again, back in the (now) much-maligned EFL Trophy and a home tie against West Ham United U21s, and I think probably our last chance to stay in the competition? Robbie’s most recent rallying cry has been to “buy, buy, buy” when it comes to iFollow streams, and with the likelihood of supporters getting to matches receding, making streaming probably our only viable revenue stream, who can blame him. As an exile, I was never expecting I’d have many opportunities to see the U’s in the flesh this season, so he’s rather preaching to the converted as far as I’m concerned, but I do like the loyalty scheme he’s put together.
Away days by Andyconky
Many pounds have been spent and many train tracks have been travelled but who doesn't love an away day. Doesn't matter if its Chester or Chelsea or Lincoln or Liverpool, it's all good fun with a sense of adventure of what may happen.
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