Football

Premier League and EFL postpone fixtures following Queen’s death but other sports continue

The Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and Women’s Super League have postponed their fixtures this weekend following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday – but other sports and events such as cricket, golf and rugby union have decided to play on as the UK enters a period of national mourning.

The footballing bodies held an emergency meeting with the government on Friday morning to decide whether to postpone the weekend’s fixtures and have opted to cancel all games as a show of respect to the monarch after her 70-year reign.

A statement from the Premier League confirmed: “At a meeting this morning, Premier League clubs paid tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. To honour her extraordinary life and contribution to the nation, and as a mark of respect, this weekend’s Premier League match round will be postponed, including Monday evening’s game.”

Decisions regarding postponements were determined following consideration of official mourning guidance, issued by the Cabinet Office, although it was left to individual sports event organisers to decide how to proceed – with cancellations not being mandatory.

The EFL and Football Association (FA) were aligned with the Premier League on their decision, which will also see the opening weekend of WSL postponed as a mark of respect. The decision will affect all grassroots football under FA jurisdiction, while football across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has also been cancelled.

A decision on next weekend’s domestic fixtures, or the midweek European action due to be played in the UK, has yet to be taken but the Premier League said further updates would be provided in due course. The period of national mourning will extend to Monday 19 September, expected to be day of the state funeral, and concern around policing means the status of next weekend’s fixtures is currently uncertain.

This morning’s emergency meeting held by the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport involved all sporting bodies, who were told that there was “no obligation to cancel or postpone sporting events” during the national mourning period. Instead, it was left to the “discretion of individual organisations”.

A further meeting between the Premier League, the EFL and the FA then took place at 11am and lasted around 25 minutes. The Independent understands all bodies were aligned with the thinking that postponing matches would be the “most appropriate” decision while weighing up how to best show respect to the Queen.

Other sporting events, such as England’s Test match against South Africa at the Oval and the PGA Championship at Wentworth, will resume on Saturday and Sunday after play was postponed on Friday following the Queen’s death. Horse racing, meanwhile, transferred meets from Saturday to Sunday to “provide an opportunity for the sport and its supporters to pay its respects”.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said the Test match against South Africa would continue “to pay tribute to the Queen and honour her remarkable life and service”, while the Rugby Football Union said offered a similar sentiment.

“Rugby Union will go ahead this weekend as teams and supporters come together to honour Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to be united in our grief as we express sorrow at her passing. Rugby, at its heart, is about community and bringing people together, in good times and in sad.”

Meanwhile, the The Football Supporters’ Association said the Premier League and EFL’s decision was “an opportunity missed for football to pay its own tributes”. The FSA added: “We believe football is at its finest when bringing people together at times of huge national significance – be those moments of joy or moments of mourning.

“Our view, which we shared with the football authorities, is that most supporters would have liked to go to games this weekend and pay their respect to the Queen alongside their fellow fans.”

The postponements to men’s football will add further pressure to the fixture headache caused by the scheduling of the Qatar World Cup in November, while it will come as a blow to the WSL ahead of its opening weekend. Several WSL fixtures, such as Tottenham’s match against Manchester United and Chelsea’s fixture against West Ham, were set to be played at big stadiums following the success of Euro 2022 and rescheduling may prove difficult.

Elsewhere, there will be little room to rearrange postponed European games ahead of November’s World Cup. Rangers, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal are all scheduled to play across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. The Independent understands discussions are ongoing but clubs involved may be worried by the optics of playing European matches in between the postponed domestic league fixtures.

Following the meeting of the Premier League and its clubs late on Friday morning, the chief executive Richard Masters said: “We and our clubs would like to pay tribute to Her Majesty’s long and unwavering service to our country. As our longest-serving monarch, she has been an inspiration and leaves behind an incredible legacy following a life of dedication.

“This is a tremendously sad time for not just the nation but also for the millions of people around the world who admired her, and we join together with all those in mourning her passing.”

Xural.com

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