The opening weekend of the Premier League is upon us, but it’s not just those twenty managers who will have a selection headache for the next ten months, but millions. Of course, the Fantasy Premier League also began on Friday night, a hobby for some, an obsession for others. In 2018/19, there were over six million ‘managers’ worldwide, up from a comparatively minute 18,000 when it launched in 2002. The platform gives individuals the chance to pick a side based on who’s playing well and who’s not. All within their £100 million budget. Everyone has their own tactics and apparent inside knowledge as to which players will be turning out each week. Some take this level of competitiveness to new heights. Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad of Saudi Arabia, allegedly once telephoned American businessman George Gillet, the then co-owner of Liverpool FC, to find out if Steven Gerrard was going to play, such was his level of interest. His squad should make interesting reading this year, considering the Prince is currently the co-owner of newly promoted Sheffield United. And of course, The Weekly couldn’t resist touching upon our favourite witty team names so far this season. 'Haven't got a Kalou' particularly struck a chord!
It’s not just the weather that’s been dampening spirits throughout the UK this week. The RICS released figures suggesting that residential transaction volumes have hit their lowest point since the GFC alongside the ONS announcing on Friday that the UK economy has shrunk for the first time since 2012. So, in search of our usual positive spin we picked up the phone to Mr Bull who is relaxing on his summer holidays.
• ‘I thought we covered my bit last week? Am I getting extra for this?!
• I’m just tucking into my second post-lunch pina colada in the sunshine but if I know you as well as I think I do, you’re going to push me for an answer.
• ‘The perfect storm’ that’s being written about in the media is a ridiculous over-reaction. Yes, the investment market is quieter than we would like but we hardly have a spot of vacancy in any of our portfolios, and ignoring retail for a second, rents are stable and even rising in parts. People can’t sit on their hands forever, foreign investors will return and don’t forget - London is still our premier World City. Things would have to get really out of hand for that to change!
• I am feeling really relaxed. However what concerns me most is if there’s any way England can get Steve Smith out at Lord's this week!’
Bull isn’t the only one enjoying his holiday this week, out-of-office replies are flying in as more and more people take the opportunity for a (deserved?) break. And if a trip to the English seaside is your chosen holiday destination then you might be all too aware of patrolling seagulls looking for a spare chip or ice cream cone from an absent-minded tourist. Warning signs to not feed these crafty scavengers deck harbour railings from Scarborough to Salcombe. But research from the University of Exeter has suggested an easy way for holidaymakers to deter the gulls – just stare into their eyes! The research shows that with a human staring at them, the herring gulls took 21 seconds longer to approach a bag of chips than when left unobserved. The researchers tried to test 74 gulls but most (unsurprisingly) flew away. Only 27 approached the food and 19 completed the ‘looking at’ and ‘looking away’ tests. The Weekly partook in their own test with the pigeons sat on the windowsill of 5 St Bride Street. Other than getting some very odd looks from passers-by, nothing seemed to happen. Maybe it’s specifically seagulls?!