Calacus Weekly Hit & Miss – Burnley FC & Golf Breakaway (& ESL)
Every Monday we look at the best and worst communicators in the sports world from the previous week.
HIT – BURNLEY FC
One of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the absence of fans from sporting events.
Lockdown has meant empty stadia with canned crowd noise piped in for television audiences only.
Premier League games have been behind closed doors since last December, when a handful of games had up to 2,000 fans in attendance before the UK went back into full lockdown.
Some pilot events, such as the Carabao Cup final at Wembley where Manchester City and Tottenham each had 2,000 fans in attendance, have since been held to test the safe return of spectators.
From 17 May, outdoor sports venues in England are due to be allowed up to 10,000 fans or 25% capacity, whichever figure is lower, with final UK government approval announced no later than 10 May.
The Premier League confirmed on Wednesday that no away supporters will be permitted to attend matches for the final two rounds of the 2020/21 season.
There has been criticism of some clubs, with Tottenham Hostpur charging up to £60 a ticket once fans can return.
But Burnley have taken the opposite approach, announcing plans to distribute free tickets to 3,500 fans for their final home game of the season against Liverpool on May 19.
The Clarets will make the ballot available to all supporters who have renewed their season tickets for next season, with successful applicants encouraged to make a donation to NHS Charities Together.
Chairman Alan Pace said: “This fixture is opportunity to reward our loyal season ticket holders who have shown incredible support to the club throughout the pandemic.
“We have therefore decided to make tickets for this fixture free of charge. If supporters are able to, the club is encouraging successful applications in the ballot to consider making a donation to the NHS charities.”
Burnley manager Sean Dyche certainly believes that having fans back will boost his team and football in general.
He added: ““It’s been a tough year for everyone and now it’s about ‘can we come out of it and move forward?’ To see football fans in a ground in my world and the football world be a really good sign of things getting back to normal.”
MISS – GOLF BREAKAWAY & ESL
No sooner has the dust settled on football’s Super League than some of the biggest names in golf are being tempted to join the ‘World Tour’ despite threats to ban them from the professional game.
Players including world No 1 Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose have been offered contracts worth up to $100m to take part in a breakaway event, and the authorities have been quick to warn those who take part.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monagan has told participants that they would face an instant suspension and a lifetime ban with The Daily Telegraph reporting that others who have been offered contracts include Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler.
Backed by Saudi Arabian investors and fronted by Majed al-Sorour, the chief executive of Golf Saudi, the ‘World Tour’ would feature individual and team formats over 12 to 18 events with a suggested launch in September 2022.
European Tour chief executive, Keith Pelley, issued a statement condemning the proposals.
He said: “We are aligned with the PGA Tour in opposing, in the strongest possible terms, any proposal for an alternative golf league.
"Since the launch of our strategic alliance last November, our two organisations have been working together to make global golf less fractured and not create further division, with the interests of all players and fans at the forefront of our thinking."
Rory McIlroy, who chairs the Players Advisory Committee on the PGA Tour, also criticised the plans and believes the traditions of the game are being forgotten.
McIlroy commented: “It's a competitive threat. I don't think there's a better structure in place in golf, and I don't think there will be," McIlroy said.
"Go back to what happened last week in Europe with the European Super League in football. People can see it for what it is, which is a money grab, which is fine if what you're playing golf for is to make as much money as possible. Totally fine, then go and do that if that's what makes you happy.
"I'm playing this game to try to cement my place in history and my legacy and to win major championships and to win the biggest tournaments in the world.
“And the possibility is that people, if they do go in that direction, can't play in the biggest tournaments in the game? The game of golf, whether it's a right thing or a wrong thing, is so about history.
“If you move further away from that, you're basically losing the essence of what competitive golf is."
This story is going to run and run and it remains to be seen how strong the proposals really are, with the organisers yet to make an official statement.
Meanwhile, UEFA has made an other positive step to move on from the European Super League debacle by announcing fines for nine of the clubs that were involved in the breakaway.
In a statement UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “I said at the Uefa congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake, especially in these days of trial by social media. These clubs have done just that.
"In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, Uefa wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit.
"These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football.”
The nine clubs - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, plus AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid - have committed to the European governing body and its competitions and will make a combined 15m euros goodwill contribution to benefit children's and grassroots football across Europe.
They will also have 5% of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season, starting in 2023-24, and this money will be redistributed, including in the UK.
However, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are set to face "appropriate action" under Uefa's disciplinary process.
Ceferin added: “The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called Super League and Uefa will deal with those clubs subsequently."
Needless to say, those three powerhouses of European fooball, whose ambitious spending is clearly at the heart of their financial struggles, issued a defiant statement suggesting that they are being victimised for refusing to withdraw from the ESL project.
The joint statement read: “The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.
“We would be highly irresponsible if, being aware of the needs and systemic crisis in the football sector, which led us to announce the Super League, we abandoned such mission to provide effective and sustainable answers to the existential questions that threaten the football industry.
“For the good of football and for the financial sustainability of the sector, we have the duty to act in a responsible manner and persevere in the pursuit of adequate solutions, despite the unacceptable and ongoing pressures and threats received from UEFA.”
Delusional is one word that comes to mind from the tone and content of the statement, criticising the governance of football and the other clubs that have now fallen back into line with no hint of regret or apology in sight.
It will be interesting to see what punishments UEFA hands out - three of the biggest clubs in football being banned from European club competitions for one season would certainly not be a surprise.