NO KHAN DO
There are few better places to watch football than Fulham. A tight ground with seats close to the pitch, the Thames behind it, and a fine collection of surrounding hostelries able to redeem the poverty of on-pitch offerings by reducing them to a rumour. What more could any supporter want?
Well, to be allowed to go the game for less than the cost of a tank of petrol, a blast of central heating, or 10 minutes of electricity. But the club’s owner, Shahid Khan – in situ for the entirety of nine years – has, in a policy more craven than the cottage itself, decided that his need for an ego-boosting ATM trumps that of fans for whom following Fulham is an identity and a way of life. As such, though the new Riverside Stand has increased capacity by 3,900, the cheapest non-family-enclosure adult ticket for next season’s opening-day game against Liverpool is £65; there are other adult tickets on sale for £100; over-65s are given just £5 off; and in three of four stands, kids must pay between £50 and £70. Or, as Khan himself put it, the development is “a real game-changer”.
This is as unsurprising as it is vomitous because, despite his cunning cultivation of a Great Soprendo tribute-moustache to convince us he’s as cuddly as a literary tiger, Khan has also sought attention in other ways. In 2012, he completed his purchase of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise, announcing a “new brand identity” and a “brand mission of being proud, bold and committed”. As part of “bringing this philosophy to life”, he introduced a “refinement of the Jacksonville Jaguars logotype and the introduction of a “military-inspired secondary logo”, because if American sport needs one thing, it’s stronger links to guns, war, violence and imperialism.
“You have to stand for something and hold yourself accountable to the principles you believe in,” explained Khan, a maxim to which he has stayed movingly faithful. Having tried and failed to buy Wembley Stadium – presumably the start of a plan to relocate the Jags – he has found another way to expropriate the team from the people of Jacksonville, handing one game a season to the oddballs of London; and if that was not enough evidence of his strong commitment to sporting excellence, he has presided over the worst team in the NFL despite being the league’s fourth-richest owner, while mooring Kismet, his subtly-named superyacht, on one side of the Jags’ homefield, and asking the taxpayer to fund a property development on another. The Jacksonville city council denied his request.
Recent reports estimate Khan’s personal wealth at $8bn – and growing. Which even The Fiver understands is more than that of those either struggling or unable to watch the club that defines them, and enough for him to allow every fan in free to every game and not notice the difference.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Perhaps not the best idea I ever had to promote the GFA Yes campaign” – former No 10 adviser Alastair Campbell admits his radar was a little off when he wrote to PM Tony Blair in 1998, suggesting Rangers and Celtic should swap shirts and play each other in Belfast to mark the Good Friday Agreement. Blair never got back to him.
David Squires looks at Euro 2022 heating up and using his powers for good.
Get your ears around the latest Women’s Football Weekly podcast, fresh out of the box.
“Surely The Fiver didn’t skip Latin classes as well as missing out on some anatomy (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). The singular of biceps is, well, biceps. Biceps brachii, the double-headed muscle of the upper arm. You could have avoided this linguistic shame by getting the right muscle. The biceps is on the inner side of the arm. On the other side is the deltoid muscle. José Mourinho has his modest new inking on the skin over the deltoid” – Colum Farrelly.
“Stuart McLagan’s letter o’ the day victory (yesterday’s Fiver letters) is probably more than adequate consolation for the discovery he has used an incorrect translation: what Marie Antoinette most likely said was ‘brioche’, not cake. In a similar vein, I’d like to be the first of 1,057 people who have studied the Enlightenment to say that I do not agree with your misattribution of a quote to Voltaire, but I will defend to the death your right to misattribute it to him” – Ed Taylor.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Ed Taylor.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Here come the Belgians! The Red Flames are through to the last eight of Euro 2022 after knocking out Italy with a 1-0 win. “I will take all the blame for this exit,” sighed Italy head coach Milena Bertolini. “I am in charge and in the firing line.” It also did for Iceland, who drew 1-1 against France despite a 102nd-minute equaliser.
Norway manager Martin Sjögren has already done one after their early Euros departure. “The expectations before this championship were clear and we had high ambitions to go far,” he sighed. “When the results did not match the expectations, the natural solution is that we now go our separate ways.”
Fans in Melbourne have been giving Harry Maguire a right royal booing during Manchester United’s 3-1 pre-season cash-in against Crystal Palace. “I heard,” tooted Donny van de Beek. “I didn’t know really what happened. But I think if I saw the game today I think Harry was playing really well. He was aggressive, he got so many balls, so that means he has a big personality.”
Djed Spence’s move to Spurs from Middlesbrough is in the books, with the deal potentially being worth £20m. “To go from watching some of the players on TV to now playing with them … it’s going to be great and I’m excited to learn from them and take in anything they can offer me,” he cheered.
Wolves’ record signing and Fabio Silva has signed a new contract and been loaned
back to the Strokes to Anderlecht for the season.
And Celtic’s squad now contains Aaron Mooy and Moritz Jenz after the pair checked in at Parkhead.
STILL WANT MORE?
Spain’s Laia Aleixandri talks to Sid Lowe about their preparations of “how best to hurt England”.
Reffing hell: what it’s like to be stuck in the middle of a game gone wrong.
The trailer for All or Nothing: Arsenal is out if you want a gander. There’s not much on the ‘All’ side of things, to be fair.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!