The Fiver | The PT Barnum of England’s financially dubious football circus

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THROW THOSE CIRCUS DOORS WIDE “I truly believe FFP is gone. I t.....NOTHER ONE


“I truly believe FFP is gone. I think it’s better to open the circus door and let everybody enjoy,” said José Mourinho today, as football came to terms with the court of arbitration for sport’s verdict in the Manchester City case.Just to recap, the verdict was that Uefa were totally wrong to punish City for fibbing about the source of some of their enormous wealth, and then hindering and delaying the ensuing investigation into it. This appears to be because they were so effective at hindering and delaying that by the time the investigation really got going, the five-year statute of limitations on the whole fibbing business had passed, leaving them unpunishable for anything except hindering and delaying, which isn’t a particularly serious thing. Hence the frivolous final punishment of £9m and some expensive legal bills.

Mourinho, of course, is the PT Barnum of England’s financially dubious football circus, having successfully turned the suspiciously large percentage of Russia’s natural oil wealth that ended up in the hands of Roman Abramovich into a group of high-class, league-winning lion-tamers, unicyclists, trapeze artists and performing seals, thus kickstarting the whole global squillionaire glory-seeking club ownership thing. Now, though, he’s in charge of hard-up Tottenham, a team constructed entirely out of sow’s ears and shoelaces, and thinks that kind of behaviour is simply terrible.

“I am happy with the way we think here,” he said. “And for me that’s just it. I think it’s going to be the end of FFP, because there is no point. And I repeat, and it’s the only thing I repeat because it’s clear in my mind: if City is not guilty, the decision is a disgrace. If City is guilty the decision is also a disgrace.” This is a slightly confusing position to take, but a convenient one for a controversy magnet like Mourinho – as it meant he was going to be able to call something a disgrace whatever happened.

Elsewhere, Pep Guardiola called Monday’s verdict “a good day for football,” while Jürgen Klopp said: “I don’t think it was a good day for football yesterday.” Klopp wants FFP to survive because it helps the Champions League, and “if … the richest people or countries can do whatever they want in football, that would make the competition really difficult”. This is not mere speculation on his part, because Liverpool have indeed found the process of winning the domestic title in England, where the richest people or countries can do whatever they want in football, really difficult.

Guardiola meanwhile insisted City should be issued with an apology. “I’m incredibly happy for the decision, which shows what all the people said about the club was not true,” he said. “If we did something wrong, we will accept the decision. But we have the right to defend ourselves when we believe what we have done is correct. Three independent judges said this.”

Woah there, Pep. The full decision has not yet been published, and what we have heard from Cas so far is that “most of the alleged breaches were either not established or time-barred”. So at least some of the alleged breaches must have been established, but not punishable because of the time-barring thing. This is not what innocence looks like, Pep. It is what a loophole looks like.


Kicking off any minute now, it’s red-hot Championship action: join John Brewin for West Brom 1-1 Fulham (5pm BST kick-off). Later, Simon Burnton will guide you through Chelsea 4-0 Norwich (8.15pm BST).


David Squires pays tribute to the late, great Jack Charlton; you can pick up a copy here. Now if you’ll excuse us, there’s something in The Fiver’s eye …

David Squires on Jack Charlton.


“I’m being replaced as ITV’s senior football commentator. To be clear, this is ITV’s decision, not mine – and I am upset, annoyed, baffled … I will carry on as their No 2 commentator but let me make it quite clear – I have not stepped down, I have been moved aside.” – Clive Tyldesley takes the news he is being replaced by Sam Matterface about as well as might be expected.


“I assume the reference to the ‘cub’s position’ in Monday’s Fiver about Manchester City was a typo. However, I will now always associate them with a bear cub and will similarly assign animal representatives to the rest of the Premier League. As an Arsenal supporter, they will of course be an elderly, incontinent cat with a nasty temper” – Edward Dean.

“Given the kicking Uefa have received from Cas, what odds on Real Madrid winning the second leg 7-0, with five City players sent off?” – Neil Bage.

“When I read the news of City’s two-year ban for breaching Uefa’s FFP rules having been lifted, I couldn’t help but picture an evil queen a perfectly charming club suit gazing smugly at one of the mirrors in the Etihad tunnel and uttering ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’” – Peter Oh.

“Why do some players persist in cupping their ears and placing a finger over their lips when the stadium is ghostly silent” – Niall O’Keeffe.

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Peter Oh.


After Wycombe won the League One play-off final to reach the second tier for the first time, striker and lifelong Liverpool fan Adebayo Akinfenwa urged Jürgen Klopp to “hit him up on WhatsApp”. Being a first-class gent with solid tech skills, Klopp was only too happy to oblige – and has invited Akinfenwa to the team’s title parade, too.


This week’s second edition of, er, Football Weekly will be landing here shortly. Until then, catch up with Monday’s edition on Big Jack and City’s Cas appeal victory.


Stoke winger James McClean has said he “gets more abuse than any other player” in English football. Commenting on social media disgrace Facebook, McClean also questioned why his Republic of Ireland teammates were willing to speak out on racism, but not “the discrimination I get”.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is hoping his shiftless mid-table rabble can copy Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool and transform into a relentless trophy-grabbing machine. Good luck with that, Mikel.

Real Madrid are closing in on another Spanish title, thanks to a 2-1 win at Granada with goals from Ferland Mendy and Karim Benzema, 47.

Glasgow City have pulled off a transfer coup with the signing of the South Africa captain, Janine Van Wyk, before their Women’s Big Cup clash with Wolfsburg. “I am extremely excited to start this new chapter in my football career,” Van Wyk hooted.

Janine Van Wyk: up for some fitba action.
Janine Van Wyk: up for some fitba action. Photograph: Joosep Martinson - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Ole Gunnar Solskjær reckoned Manchester United got what they deserved after conceding a last-gasp equaliser to Southampton. “We thought we had three points in the bag but we possibly didn’t deserve to win,” Ole mumbled. “We’re disappointed, but that’s how it is. I thought we defended well until that last corner.” Well, quite.

Viewers in Saudi Arabia will have no way of watching Premier League games after the Saudi government banned Qatar’s beIN Sports from broadcasting in the country. “The decision is nonsensical on every single level,” parped a beIN Sports statement.

And over in Romania, Gheorghe Multescu has been appointed coach of Dinamo Bucharest for the fourth time – his 39th managerial job in total. The 68-year-old began coaching in 1985 and has also managed in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.


Jordan Pickford may be chucking them in a bit for Everton at the moment but that doesn’t mean his best England days are behind him, reckons Jonathan Liew.

Proper Journalist David Conn argues that Manchester City’s Cas win doesn’t mean financial fair play is finished.

Tony Adams gets his chat on about coping with lockdown, his Sporting Chance clinic and rugby league with Gavin Willacy.

Five into three didn’t go, but now the spare Champions League spots have shrunk back to two. Martin Laurence takes a look at the teams still in the hunt.

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