The three talking points the panel discuss are the Champions League draw debacle, new penalty laws and rising Covid cases in football.

Gareth Roberts hosts Andy Heaton, Damian Kavanagh and Tom Whittaker…

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Strike One: The Champions League draw

The re-drawn draw has put it under the spotlight, so let’s do all the options:

  • Do you like the current format?
  • Should it change?
  • Are some of the stipulations – country/group etc even necessary?
  • Is it too ‘rigged’ for want of a better phrase with seedings etc
  • Does it just feel a little bit ‘graft’ with the amount of rules around it….eg:

And in 2024-25, it all changes again:

Strike Two: Penalties

The spot kick awarded to James Maddison was the seventh penalty in the Premier League weekend, the most in one matchday since September 2003.

  • Have we reached a situation where no one truly knows what is deserving of one and what isn’t? Even refs and ex refs can’t seem to agree.
  • How annoying is ‘clear and obvious’ – and also isn’t what is clear and obvious just another level of subjectivity?
  • As it so often results in a goal – and can be crucial as we saw at the weekend, what about every pen being reviewed in the prem?
  • Eddie Howe also suggested the refs should be going to review it themselves rather than taking guidance from VAR
  • They will always be controversial in some way but what could be made clearer?
  • Are the rules around the keeper necessary? Aren’t they already at a massive disadvantage?

Strike three: Footie and Covid

Times: The Premier League has announced 42 new coronavirus cases among club players and staff, the highest weekly figure recorded since testing figures began being circulated in May last year.

Only a dozen cases were reported last week but Covid-19 outbreaks have hit several top-flight clubs in the last few days, including Manchester United, whose game at Brentford on Tuesday night is in danger of being postponed.

Last week, Tottenham reported that eight players and five members of staff had tested positive, leading to their Europa Conference League match against Rennes and Sunday’s Premier League trip to Brighton both being called off.

Several other clubs — including Norwich and Aston Villa — have reported a number of cases, while Monday’s Championship fixture between QPR and Sheffield United was postponed due to an outbreak at the London club.

  • Cases are on the rise both generally and in football
  • Difference this time is vaccination levels but how far can policing of that realistically go?
  • ‘Spot checks’ seems a cop out
  • But any step to something stricter attracts a lot of opposition – and comes with logistical hurdles
  • What rules should there be around the games?
  • A lot of postponements would be a nightmare logistically
  • Should it be a certain number of the squad and it’s off or should it be you have to fulfill fixtures almost no matter what
  • A significant chunk of players appear to be unvaccinated
  • Behind closed doors feels so grim as a prospect having experienced it and had everything back


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