AHEAD OF THE GAME: England’s gay fans advised to steer clear of Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal… despite FIFA’s assurances it will be safe for LGBTQ supporters at the 2022 World Cup
- England’s gay fan groups have been told not to come to the Qatar World Cup
- Despite FIFA’s claims it will be safe, underground gay groups say they disagree
- The Premier League has not started new discussions with the EFL about funding
- Top-flight English sides are using 200-seater planes to travel to domestic games
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
England’s gay fan groups have been advised to stay away from the World Cup by locals in Qatar despite claims from FIFA and the organising committee that it will be safe for them to visit.
The FA said this week they had received assurances that gay supporters who hold hands or wave a rainbow flag will not be prosecuted as the Qatari government will bring in legislation to permit previously outlawed behaviours for the duration of the tournament, but they are still seeking details about how the laws will be enforced in practice.
Gay fans remain concerned however, particularly after holding talks with members of the undercover gay community in Qatar, who have told them to stay at home.
The undercover gay community in Qatar has urged England’s LGBTQ supporters not to come
The message coming out of Qatar is considerably different from that which emanated from Russia before the previous World Cup four years ago, when gay fans were encouraged to travel to the country in the hope of driving social change.
There appears to be a reluctant acceptance that this aspiration is simply impossible in Qatar and the head of Three Lions Pride, England’s largest LGBTQ+ fans group, said this week that they were not aware of a single gay fan who intended to travel.
Top flight’s funding squabble
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has admitted to the Government that the top flight have yet to begin negotiations with the EFL over the so-called New Deal for Football, despite telling them in July that talks were set to start the following week.
Masters has been frustrated in his attempts to respond to EFL calls for extra funding as his clubs are arguing over who should pay for it.
The EFL want an extra £250m a year and while Premier League clubs accept they will have to cough up, the discussions are deadlocked over who should foot the bill, with the smaller clubs wanting the Big Six to pick up most of the tab.
Richard Masters confirmed the Premier League had not opened conversations with the EFL
Morecambe’s Stellar battle
Worcester Warriors’ under-fire owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham, who also put their League One club Morecambe up for sale earlier this month, have locked horns with some of the most powerful figures in football during their struggle to keep their sports empire intact over recent months.
Leading agency Stellar Football, whose clients include Gareth Bale, Jack Grealish and Kalvin Phillips, are understood to have issued Worcester with a winding-up petition earlier this summer over an unpaid bill, although it has since been withdrawn after the debt was settled.
Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham put League One Morecambe up for sale this month
Club flights hit turbulence
Premier League clubs are being offered Boeing 737s for travel to away matches due to a shortage of private jets caused by a combination of rising fuel costs and Brexit.
Most top-flight clubs take chartered flights to all but the closest of away games, but have found it hard to book this season due to a lack of private jets.
Jota Aviation, who provided planes to several clubs, went into liquidation in July and several other European operators have been hit by increased costs after the UK left the EU.
As a result, clubs have been offered 737s, which seat over 200 people, sparking concerns about the environmental impact of a largely empty plane travelling a short distance.
Some Premier League clubs are using 200-seater Boeing planes for their short-haul matches
All-star plans off the agenda
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly’s controversial proposal for a North v South All-Star game was not discussed, or even referred to in jest, at a meeting of all 20 Premier League clubs held in London this week.
Boehly attended the Premier League’s monthly shareholders meeting as he has done regularly since completing the purchase of Chelsea in May, but did not take the chance to push the ideas he outlined at a business leaders conference in New York last week.
Boehly was the first executive to leave the meeting which was dominated by talks about increasing funding to the EFL.
Todd Boehly’s unusual proposal for a North against South All-Star game was not discussed