LOMAS ON STAGS: Domestic issues settled, now it’s time to savour the Euros!
As domestic issues were all finally settled in the EFL over the weekend and the European finals were completed, it feels now at last we can actually start to get excited about the European Championships.
Gareth Southgate has whittled his squad down and it looks exciting and capable.
After the World Cup campaign three years ago, there is every reason for England fans to be optimistic.
I watched much of the last World Cup outdoors in the 'Red Square' fans zone in Sneinton market in Nottingham city centre and that experience will live with me forever. But jumping up and down and hugging strangers with beer flying everywhere may not be permitted this year and at least the first two games will see fans expected to sit down at tables of no more than six indoors.
Indeed, if Covid restrictions do not get lifted as hoped for on 21st June we could see the whole tournament being a sit-down job which will definitely take the edge off it.
Domestically all we can do now is await the fixtures being released on 24th June – and we now know they will include Newport County after their play-off final defeat by Morecambe on Monday.
It was a second play-off final heartbreak for Newport in three seasons and it looks possible they could now see the departure of much-loved manager Michael Flynn, who should be much in demand elsewhere.
Their defeat did draw a certain level of sympathy as, with no VAR, they saw two big penalty decisions go against them which, on the TV replays, looked harsh.
But after so many years of struggle for Morecambe, it was also nice to bask in the fairytale of the underdogs coming out on top of reaching League One level for the first time ever.
It was also a lovely gesture at the weekend for Stags to offer renewing season ticket holders a third off for their loyalty over the pandemic.
This Saturday Stags fans will also show great interest in the National League play-off quarter-final clash between Notts County and Chesterfield. But who would you want to win it and possibly even be promoted? I suspect if pushed many Stags fans would plump for County and a day/night out in Nottingham and two pumping local derbies.