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How Covid, UEFA and FIFA creates football's perfect storm.


JohninDublin
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Tonight's game for my beloved Spurs v Rennes has been announced as being postponed due to Covid. Spurs have 8 players and 5 back-room staff infected. This event cuts across so many things that annoy me about Covid, my team and football in general.

Last season we faced a similar situation when we were drawn away to Orient in the Carabao Cup. Any team playing in Euro-comps before Xmas, can expect when the International breaks are taken into account, to have most of their players in action for two games a week all the way up to the end of the year. When the Football League took the view Orient should forfeit the game I fully agreed with the decision. This was a problem created by the carelessness of people connected to Orient. So as far as the Covid element of my rant is concerned, that problem arose because someone from Orient almost certainly did not follow the rules on social distancing etc. The schedule of matches was such, that if the game was to be played, it could only be done by Spurs playing 4 games in just over a week at some stage, or the match being played one round behind all the others and hope there would be no more postponements as we got further into winter. If not then we would  getting into an unintentional further fixture pile up, that might continue until March or beyond. My view was this was a problem caused by Orient's carelessness, and it would not be fair if we had to suffer because of this.

Now turning to Spurs themselves, we went into the Europa Conference as the highest ranked team in the comp according to the Euroclub Index, and 2nd highest according to the more dubious UEFA rankings. Based on ECI, Rennes might be a top 6 club in our Championship. Arnhem would be about mid-table in that league. Mura would struggle in Div 1. On paper, it would not be unreasonable to presume, Spurs might have have had 13 out of 15 points by now. The fly in that ointment, is that Spurs fielded weakened teams in 4 of the 5 games, getting just 1 point from three away games. As a result, Rennes have already topped the group, and had the game been played tonight against them we would have had to get at least a draw against them if Arnhem drew their match  with Mura. But in the event Arnhem win by 3 clear goals, (Arnhem are 1/6 favourites playing at home)  we would have to beat Rennes by at least 1 goal, and each additional goal Arnhem win by, we have to duplicate to just qualify for the first round of 16.

The rules of the comp for the Euro Conference are the 8 group winners go through to the round of 16, but the second placed teams go into a knockout comp against the 8 third placed teams from the Europa League. Finishing 2nd meant we would have to play 2 extra games in an additional round of 16 just to get to the round of 16 proper. And if we do manage this, we are in that mess because both Nuno and Conte over-estimated the abilities of second string teams they fielded. I'm all in favour of giving players a break, but only after they have got the job done. When we played Mura, the job was far from over. I am fed up with seeing the last three Spurs managers involved in Euro games, fielding weakened teams in competitions and embarrassing ourselves. 

However I am led to understand that UEFA's rules are that all group games must be completed before the end of the calendar year. We are already committed to 2 games a week until then. Rennes have 3 games between now and Dec 31st, so they could accommodate the fixture. However Covid rules are that any infected player must isolate for 10 days, so the game, if re-arranged, and not to unfairly inconvenience Rennes, would have to be played sometime after 22nd Dec, but before Dec 31st. Spurs have games on 26th and 28th as well as Jan 1st.

Now to add to that, we may need to apply to the PL for postponements of upcoming fixtures. The rules are postponements can only be granted if there are less than 14 fit "A" list payers or no fit G/K. However, the PL have waived this rule in the past and the decision is made on a case by case basis. It is also possible to apply to the PL for a postponement in order to squeeze the Rennes game in. The problem is someone else will be inconvenienced through our negligence, and if we are already seeking postponements to fit in our league games, these have to be added to the Burnley game that was recently called off. So to ask the PL to help out with both our Euro-game and PL fixtures, would require that we have to reschedule 3 games. On the other hand, not helping out would mean that failing to qualify for the preliminary last 16 round would create 2 dates to put Spurs back on PL schedule. 

Personally, I would not like it, but if both UEFA and the PL were unsympathetic, I would not blame them.

Now turning to football in general, I'm sure many of us are old enough to recall the time when cup-ties were played until there was a definite win result for one team. This might to lead to 3 or even more replays. That has now been reduced to one replay max, and then penalties after extra time. In the League cup, it's straight to penalties after 90 mins. The PL has reduced itself from 22 to 20 teams, so in theory there are four matchdays freed up to cope with extended replays. However, the theory fails because both UEFA and FIFA, keep using every available slot to insert another game. 

In the past 30 years we have seen the CL extended from a comp that could be won in as few as 9 games to now needing 13 games minimum. The European Nations Cup has gone from 12 max, to 14 minimum. The WC could be won with 12, but it now needs 15 minimum. Recently we've seen the addition of The Nations League which adds another 6 matches to the calendar. I accept part of the problem is caused by the fall of the Iron Curtain. Yugoslavia for example, morphed into 6 different nations. Czechoslovakia split into two, and I can even begin to tell you how many countries sprung from Russia, while Kosovo broke away from Albania. The fracturing may yet continue further as both Ukraine and Moldova endure their own internal conflicts.

But as a consequence of this, for the past few years the PL and doubtless most other leagues in Europe begin the season in Stop/Start mode. Start Aug. Sep, stop for a fortnight for two International qualifiers. Restart then in Oct,  and two weeks later another break for another two games. This year, they treated us to another break in November. Anyone seeing a pattern here? Where will it all end? 

Next season, the PL will have it's earliest ever start. The reason for this being the WC that was so blatantly corruptly awarded to Qatar. It seems the genii  running FIFA, were unaware that having a WC in the Qatari Summer would require players to operate in 100F temps. The fact they did nothing about it for two years was almost certainly down to the time it took to count all the money in those brown envelopes. Eventually, they decided to fix this by staging the tournament in November/Dec instead of the customary June/July. As a consequence, most of world football will stop mid-season for about six weeks. Of course, that is subject to Covid permitting this to happen

And to cap it all, FIFA has recently appointed Arsene Wenger as head of Global Football Development. He has come up with the idea, that instead of a WC every four years, it should be increased to every two years. Interestingly enough, this has a lot of support among African and Caribbean nations, but that could be due to the more tournaments they get to approve, the greater the frequency of brown envelopes. 

Where we are today, is the world football football time table is being run with the efficiency of a Nazi railway timetable. The problem is that you only need the train ahead of you to break down while it's standing at a platform, and chaos ensues. We all know the effects that the wrong type of snow can bring to a railway, and this is a metaphor for Covid. 

But back to tonight's postponed game and the possibility of both UEFA and the PL not granting Spurs any requests for accommodations to get us past this temporary crisis. Frankly, I would not blame them if they did refuse. We are in this position because at least one person connected with the club, failed to observe all the well known protocols and now there are at least 13 cases of CV associated with the club. The club has to take responsibility for the problems employees cause the club. Nevertheless, I will say that UEFA and FIFA combined with Covid, especially the over-running of last season and the over loaded fixture lists created by both UEFA and FIFA have created the perfect storm for Spurs, and I don't think we will be the last team to suffer so.

 

Edited by JohninDubin
Insertion of missing apostrophe.
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12 minutes ago, JohninDubin said:

And to cap it all, FIFA has recently appointed Arsene Wenger as head of Global Football Development. He has come up with the idea, that instead of a WC every four years, it should be increased to every two years. Interestingly enough, this has a lot of support among African and Caribbean nations, but that could be due to the more tournaments they get to approve, the greater the

Absolute madness John. Am hoping Conmebol and Uefa will boycott any move in that direction.

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2 minutes ago, BigHewer said:

Absolute madness John. Am hoping Conmebol and Uefa will boycott any move in that direction.

They've already expressed a negative opinion of that idea.

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1 minute ago, JohninDubin said:

They've already expressed a negative opinion of that idea.

If they’re not in it, it won’t go ahead. Africa and Asia have the votes, Europe and South America put on the show.

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2 minutes ago, BigHewer said:

If they’re not in it, it won’t go ahead. Africa and Asia have the votes, Europe and South America put on the show.

I had an opinion that when Qatar were awarded the WC, UEFA should have boycotted this and staged their own alternative to the WC inviting all countries to participate. It is Europe that holds the power. 70% of the players at the last two WC's were Euro based. It is ludicrous that an island like St. Vincent with a population of just over 100k, have the same voting power as those European countries with 50 mill+

Of course, the real flaw in my plan was that there were those who were delegates to UEFA, who also received brown envelopes, and to agree with this, they would have to return these.

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1 minute ago, JohninDubin said:

Of course, the real flaw in my plan was that there were those who were delegates to UEFA, who also received brown envelopes, and to agree with this, they would have to return these.

Those brown envelopes are a major issue, as Australia found out when they tabled a WC bid.

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Just to update Spurs' fixture status since my first posts: Arnhem beat Mura 3-1 last night, meaning that to qualify for the preliminary round of 16 Spurs just need a win of any description against Rennes. The PL has postponed Spurs game with Brighton. By Sunday, Spurs will have two games in hand on the rest of the PL.

However, to play the Rennes game before Jan 1st, they cannot avoid a situation where at some stage, they will have to play 2 games in 48 hours.

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However, to play the Rennes game before Jan 1st, they cannot avoid a situation where at some stage, they will have to play 2 games in 48 hours.

Play our youngsters in the Rennes game and save the senior players for the league as there could be several matches at that stage to slot into the fixture list.

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4 hours ago, Andrew Reeve said:

Play our youngsters in the Rennes game and save the senior players for the league as there could be several matches at that stage to slot into the fixture list.

It's a must win game if they want to progress.

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Just now, JohninDubin said:

It's a must win game if thy want to progress.

They're going to have to make a choice between the league and Europe, clearly.

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39 minutes ago, Andrew Reeve said:

League far more important especially when you will have a fixture pile-up.

And indeed with League Top 4 a realistic prospect.

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2 hours ago, BigHewer said:

They're going to have to make a choice between the league and Europe, clearly.

Both are possible, especially as there are slots available in Jan for the PL games. But winning the Euro-comp is with TV, Gate and Prize money worth up to £30 mill, which would be useful following the recent £101 mill loss recently reported. The Conference league apart from this outstanding game, restarts in mid-Feb.

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2 hours ago, Andrew Reeve said:

League far more important especially when you will have a fixture pile-up.

I agree it's far more important, but the fixture prob could be solved as early as next month.

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If the Leicester game goes ahead next Thursday and then we might be able to cope with catching up on 2 lge games and 1 european game and it will still be very difficult to keep the players fresh and injury free.

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59 minutes ago, Andrew Reeve said:

If the Leicester game goes ahead next Thursday and then we might be able to cope with catching up on 2 lge games and 1 european game and it will still be very difficult to keep the players fresh and injury free.

Agreed!

Not sure if you are aware, but the Rennes game has be completed by Dec 31st. We are already committed to two games a week until then. Come Jan, we currently have one game a week, unless we beat Wet Sham in the Carabao Cup where there will then be an extra two games. to play in Jan.

Much as I hate Wet Sham, I'd rather lose that game, than be knocked out of Europe. The prize for winning the CC? Direct entry into the final qualifying round of the Conference? Back to square 1?

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56 minutes ago, Andrew Reeve said:

I hope that is the case John and now we can concentrate of a top 4 finish in the league.

Yes! My only interest in the Carabao Cup, is to stop Wet Sham from winning it.

Bet you Levy's fuming as this has cost potentially millions.

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Bet you Levy's fuming as this has cost potentially millions.

More reason for a top 4 finish and Champions lge for next season.

I had a bad feeling regarding the Conf lge and felt it would undo our season and we would finish outside of the top 6.

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