Last notebook, the world’s biggest sporting event had returned. This edition, the country’s biggest event got off to a flyer – and weren’t we all happy to see full Premier League stadia once more.
Silly Season Continues
Each and every year, for a short period during the summer and an even shorter period through January, football fans around the world go mad. Absolutely bonkers. They’re sent wild by ‘in-the-know’ journalists and driven to distraction by rumour columns. It is, of course, the transfer window – or as it’s often also known, silly season; the period of time in which footballers can move between teams.
This summer it’s been more chaotic than ever.
We’ve seen uncapped English players move for upwards of £50m; a Belgian superstar who was sold by Chelsea for £28m rebought for £97m; and even the most expensive British player of all time as Jack Grealish joined Manchester City for £100m.
But among them all was one of the most surprising and historic transfers in the game.
Lionel Messi, famously a one-club man, widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time, who’d spent his life at Barcelona since the age of 13, announced out of the blue that he would be unable to resign with his lifelong club and within days was unveiled as the new marquee star of Paris Saint-Germain.
Fans around the world tracked his private jet from the Spanish city’s El Prat Airport all the way to Charles De Gaulle, lined the streets as his car drove through the streets of Paris, and accumulated outside the Parc des Princes to welcome their new idol.
Amid it all, however, it’s worth remembering that in essence, one man’s life has been turned completely upside down. From having his family settled in Barcelona for 20 years, to uprooting them to Paris in the blink of an eye.
A new club, and a new country, means entirely new laws governing contracts – something Messi and his team won’t have had to deal with since he moved from Argentina to Spain in 2000. Amid the fury, frenzy and excitement of seeing him in a new kit, the insurance implications of his move are extensive. Add to this his countless sponsorship agreements, supplier contracts and entourage support and ‘team Messi’ have a considerable amount to contend with.
For PSG, meanwhile, nabbing the planet’s greatest footballer doesn’t come without its own risk. Messi is a superhuman player, of course, but looking objectively you could easily argue that handing a two-year contract to 34-year-old player is a tricky financial decision to justify. Thankfully, Messi is a different proposition, and arguably with Mbappe and Neymar already at the club, Messi’s off-field impact may well end up being greater than what he delivers on it.
England v India Thriller
Over in cricket, we’ve seen two fantastic Test matches play out at Trent Bridge and Lords in the last two weeks, with rain saving England in the first before India ran rampant on a thrilling Day 5 for victory in the second.
Questions will be asked of the England team, who seemed to fall apart against a spirited Indian bowling attack, but the batting line up was notably for it’s absence of seniority.
One of those missing, through no fault of his own, was Ben Stokes who is taking time away from the game as he focuses on his mental health.
Earlier this year, we took part in a campaign with Sport Industry Group looking at the effect that COVID-19 and the crowded cricket schedule was having on mental health, and you can read more here.
At Miller, we take mental health incredibly seriously and as it increases as a risk within sport, are here to support all of our athletes whatever their struggle may be.
NZ – COVID CasesWe close this edition with a curious case over in New Zealand, where the All Blacks have opted to cancel their planned Bledisloe Cup rugby match with Australia because of COVID-19, seemingly without telling the Australian authorities.
The match, scheduled to be in Perth and the third fixture between the two teams in the series, was cancelled following a snap lockdown across New Zealand as a result of a single COVID-19 case, but Australian authorities were left angered at how it was handled.
"I'm bloody angry. Our boys all found out through social media," said Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.
It’s once more a reminder that, as we continue in to a hopeful future, COVID remains a serious risk across the world.
But regardless, we can all take light in the image of fans across the country heading back to football grounds this week – long may it continue.