Premier League is set to postpone games following the death of Queen Elizabeth II
British sport to come to a standstill as football likely to follow lead of golf, cricket and rugby
Britain’s entire sporting schedule today and possibly the weekend looks set to be suspended as national mourning begins after the death of Queen Elizabeth.
Premier League and Football League bosses are yet to confirm whether they will move the weekend’s action following the announcement from Buckingham Palace, but it is expected that the programme will be postponed.
A meeting of leading figures across sport took place yesterday afternoon as news of the Queen’s declining condition emerged.
Consensus was quickly reached among sporting chiefs that they should take it upon themselves to unite in postponing today’s action.
The Football League confirmed tonight’s matches – the Championship game between Burnley and Norwich and the League Two clash between Tranmere and Stockport – had been postponed.
England’s series-deciding third Test against South Africa loses a day’s play and golf at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth has also been cancelled “out of respect for Her Majesty and the Royal Family”.
Today’s sixth stage of the Tour of Britain has been cancelled, with doubts remaining about tomorrow and Sunday’s stages, while tonight’s pre-season friendly between Ulster and Glasgow Warriors and rugby league fixtures were also called off last night.
Horse racing, which had a particularly close affinity with the Queen, was the first sport to confirm there would be no meetings at all today .
An announcement will be made today regarding plans for tomorrow, where the Leger at Doncaster is the showpiece event as the final British Classic of the season.
Golf’s European Tour Group, meanwhile, immediately stopped play at the BMW PGA Championship and later cancelled today’s second round.
It is understood a decision over whether to resume play this weekend will be made today.
Opening matches for rugby’s Premiership season could also be moved by at least a day after last night’s Premiership Rugby Cup match between Northampton Saints and Saracens was immediately called off. Sources close to the competition said they were waiting for final direction from the UK government.
There was no clarity with the Premier League and Football League about fixtures this weekend yesterday though a decision is expected following the meeting with government this morning.
Newcastle, who had been due to hold a pre-match press conference at 9.0am, have delayed it until 1.30pm.
The Scottish Professional Football League is also expected to provide an update regarding its weekend fixtures today.
However, some English sides were involved in European fixtures last night.
Manchester United said they had been directed by both the FA and UEFA to press ahead with their Europa League fixture against Real Sociedad.
There had been no pre-match music and the digital advertising hoardings were switched off following the news that arrived as turnstiles opened to the ground. Both sets of players donned black armbands, with United manager Erik ten Hag wearing one over his suit.
Arsenal were playing at FC Zurich when the Queen’s death was announced. A minute’s silence took place immediately before the start of the second half.
UK government advice has largely allowed sports to make up their own minds regarding postponements. However, the guidance does ensure a complete sporting wipeout on the day of the Queen’s funeral.
At fixtures in the intervening period, athletes will wear black armbands, with venues observing pre-fixture silences and flags flying at half-mast.
Given the Queen’s close affinity with racing, there is significant doubt the St Leger Festival at Doncaster will resume this weekend.
Britain’s longest-serving monarch was also one of the most prominent British owner-breeders of thoroughbreds and the owner of Ascot racecourse. Senior establishment figures said racing will do its utmost to “ensure it leads commemorations in sport” as a result.
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