PREMIER LEAGUE chiefs will decide on Friday whether to cancel this weekend’s fixtures following the death of The Queen.
But while there will be no order banning sports, it is thought likely League bosses will agree calling off matches is the right decision.
It comes after Friday’s racing program and the second day of England’s final Test against South Africa at The Oval, last night’s Premiership Cup match between Northampton and Saracens and tonight’s two scheduled EFL games were postponed, although Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham’s European games all went ahead.
An EFL statement read: “As a mark of respect, following the passing of Her Majesty, The Queen Elizabeth II earlier today, the EFL has confirmed that its fixtures scheduled for tomorrow evening (Friday 9 September) – Burnley v Norwich City and Tranmere Rovers v Stockport County – have been postponed.
“A determination regarding the remainder of this weekend’s scheduled fixtures will be made following a review of the official mourning guidance, in addition to further consultation with DCMS and other sports on Friday morning.”
The Government is not planning to enforce a shutdown in sport as the UK enters 10 days of national mourning following the passing of the longest-reigning Sovereign in British history.
But Prem chief executive Richard Masters and his board are aware of a potential backlash if they play the weekend’s matches as scheduled.
And another factor is the potential drain on police resources as towns and cities up and down the country pay tribute to The Queen after her 70-year reign.
A final call will be made by lunchtime with Premier League chiefs aware that clubs will be setting off for overnight stays ahead of Saturday’s games and that fans will also need to know if they are travelling.
But while there will be no Government action to block sports fixtures from taking place, football, rugby and racing in particular are thought to be leaning towards postponements, while there is speculation that the entire Test might be cancelled.
So far there has only been a brief statement by the ECB, which said: “Following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Friday’s play between England and South Africa men at The Oval, along with all scheduled matches in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy , will not take place.
“For fixtures beyond Friday, updates will be provided in due course.”
Matches are still likely to take place over the coming 10 days after this weekend although sports bodies will be expected to mark the passing of Her Majesty at the age of 96.
That will see fans and players asked to respect one-minute silences before games, the national anthem also to be played and black armbands worn.
If the weekend’s football matches are called off it will be a break with precedent from the last time a monarch died in the middle of the football season.
A full Football League fixture list, including the North London Derby between Spurs and Arsenal, took place on Saturday February 9, 1952, three days after the death of King George VI.
The Government has contacted sports bodies to make it clear they have the final say on whether fixtures should be played – with a green light if there are suitable marks of respect paid.
Ministers accepted that it would not have been feasible for the games at Old Trafford and the London Stadium to have been postponed when thousands of fans were already at the ground when the confirmation of The Queen’s death came last night.
But it is expected that no sporting events will take place during the Queen’s funeral parade and service, expected to be on Monday September 19, although any night matches would be allowed to get ahead