Premier League fixture chaos beckons as new warning is delivered
A second weekend of Premier League matches could be cancelled
Premier League and English Football League matches next weekend are under threat amid major concerns about staging them safely on the eve of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
A potential shortage of police could mean games being called off in London and beyond, with officers likely to be redeployed en masse to the English capital amid an expected influx of millions of mourners.
Football in England has already been postponed this weekend as a mark of respect. Further cancellations would risk causing a fixture pile-up in an unprecedented season of congestion triggered by the first winter World Cup.
Britain’s first state funeral since the death of Winston Churchill in 1965 is expected to take place a week on Monday, 11 days after the Queen’s passing.
More people – including world leaders and royals from across the globe – are likely to travel to London than at any moment in history, triggering an unprecedented police operation starting in the days preceding it.
Apart from Brighton’s match against Crystal Palace, which was postponed as a result of a planned rail strike that has now been cancelled, there is a full Premier League and EFL fixture programme scheduled for next weekend.
Many of those matches would normally require policing and would not ordinarily be cleared to take place in the absence of sufficient numbers of officers. It remains to be seen whether only affected matches would be cancelled or whether the Premier League and EFL would scrap another entire round of games.
Any decision they took would leave them open to accusations it could result in some teams benefiting more than others. When it came to this weekend’s fixtures, both the Premier League and EFL ultimately chose to postpone the entire round of games, including Leeds United’s clash with Nottingham Forest on Monday night.
Manchester United, meanwhile, have confirmed their Europa League trip to Sheriff Tiraspol will go ahead as scheduled on Thursday.
The Red Devils are the first UK club to confirm they will fulfil their European fixture next week, following this weekend’s Premier League postponements.
In English rugby, the Premiership games of Bristol v Bath and Sale v Northampton will be played this weekend respectively having been postponed from their original date of last night.
Play will resume at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Saturday with 30 players due to complete their first rounds. The event will be reduced to a 54-hole tournament.
There will be no racing in Britain on Saturday but the season’s last Classic, the Cazoo St Leger which was due to take place at Doncaster, will be centrepiece of a nine-race card on Sunday.
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