Martin Valjent misses Sunday's game through quarantine

Martin Valjent misses Sunday's game through quarantine.

17-10-2020MIQUEL A. BORRAS

After a week when Ikea’s new store in Valladolid had a Boaty McBoatface moment, they thought it was a good idea to hold a contest to name the street the store was on but wound up getting hammered – an online poll called the street “Calle Me Falta un Tornillo” (I’m missing a screw street)! – Real Mallorca (who now have to play five games in 14 days) reach match day six in this season’s La Liga SmartBank lying in fourth place on 10 points, having won their last three games on the bounce. This Sunday at 18:15 they play Mirandes (nicknamed Los Jabatos – the wild boars) who play in the Burgos region and lie two points behind us. They will be tricky opponents in their small Anduva ground, having had a brilliant run in last season’s new-look Copa del Rey, reaching the semi-finals knocking out Celta Vigo, Sevilla and Villareal before succumbing to Real Sociedad in the semis. Mallorca know the Anduva stadium very well as it brings back happy memories. On May 27, 2018 we clinched promotion from Segunda B into La Segunda. We won the two-legged play-off 3-1 in Palma and drew away 0-0.

For Sunday’s game, coach Luis Garcia Plaza has a selection problem. Martin Valjent has been left in Palma after playing three games for Slovakia in six days. There has been an outbreak of Covid-19 in their squad, so following the normal procedure he has gone into quarantine until Tuesday. With Lago Junior back from international duty with the Ivory Coast, does the coach play him down the right wing to the exclusion of Murilo, leaving the two Brians Olivan and Cufre to operate down the left flank? Last Sunday we gave a baptism to new Argentinian left-sided player Cufre, who arrived from Velez Sarfield with great expectations and he was our man of the match. Whatever the decision on selection, I have to go for Mallorca picking up their fourth straight win. Our next game at home against Albacete has been rescheduled for THURSDAY, October 22 at 19:00.

Semi professional football returns to Segunda B this weekend and sees the reintroduction of a percentage of fans in grounds. Segunda B is governed by the RFEF, not La Liga, so they have a different policy on fans’ re-entry. Today Deportivo La Coruña will have 3,000 fans for their game against Salamanca, and local club At. Balear will have 1,000.

Professional football in La Liga and La Liga SmartBank are pulling strings (after eight months and 18 days) to allow some fans in and La Liga has presented a protocol to the Higher Sports Council to organise the return of a live audience albeit greatly reduced. Some of the strict rules for fans which could be put into place include no embracing or giving high fives should your team score (that may prove difficult to control if you grab a 95th minute winning goal !). Mallorca could produce their own protocols to present to the local health authorities and fans may have to sign up in advance, provide ID and details of any health conditions. Clubs will then decide who gets in based on the numbers and the capacity of the ground. Only season ticket holders would be allowed and they are unlikely to get their usual seats. They will however be given seats of a comparable value. Fans will be given one of up to 5 – 15 minute slots during which they must arrive at the ground. These slots are expected to start 90 minutes before kick-off with the most vulnerable the last to arrive. At the end, fans will leave the ground by row with those closest to the exits leaving first. Another rule could be clubs have to construct an outer rim around the stadium allowing for two temperature checkpoints and fans will be asked to remain in their seats unless a trip to the loo is required. Masks and social distancing will be strictly adhered to and two small bottles of water will be handed out on entry as no fast food or drinks outlets will be open. Finally, fans will be discouraged from using public transport after the game.

Some clubs like Real Madrid, Osasuna and Levante are unable to bring back fans because of building work which they accelerated when lockdown started, on the assumption there would be no fans for the rest of the season, or at least not before Christmas. They are unhappy that some clubs may welcome fans back faster, arguing that offers an unfair advantage.

Spain’s sports minister intervened on Friday in the spat between the RFEF and La Liga with regard to football matches being played on a Monday and a Friday. The result was in favour of La Liga, we now have games on these two days. Is this closure or not?

PS Happy Birthday to ex-long-time resident and Real Mallorca socio Ken Norcross, who reached the milestone of 90 last week. Back in the day, Lancastrian Ken was a ballboy at Rossendale United before moving on to bigger things at local rivals Bacup Borough, who went on to win the Lancashire combination championship in 46/47. Happy days!

AND FINALLY, brace yourselves! The Clyde Tunnels were closed and the speed limit reduced after the Glasgow Highways Agency found over 200 dead crows on the tunnel’s approach roads. There were concerns that the crows may have died from Covid-19. A pathologist examined the remains of the crows and to everyone’s relief found the problem was not “the virus.” The cause of death appeared to be from vehicular impacts. However, during analysis it was noted various colours of paint appeared on the birds’ beaks and claws. By analysing these paint residues, it was found that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with lorries, while 2% were killed by cars. The Agency then hired an ornithological behavourist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills. He quickly concluded that when crows eat road kill they always have a lookout crow to warn of danger. The behavourist discovered that while the lookout crows shouted “Cah, cah !” not a single one could shout “Lorry!!!”

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