Rangers game moved over policing and Arsenal match under discussion
Rangers’ match against Napoli in the Champions League has been moved back by 24 hours, to Wednesday night, after the Queen’s death resulted in “severe limitations on police resources and organisational issues”.
Uefa’s announcement came as Arsenal awaited clarification as to whether their Europa League game at home to PSV on Thursday night can go ahead. There had been confidence last Friday that the match would be played, after the Metropolitan police indicated they would be comfortable with it, but on Sunday the matter was still being discussed by the club with the relevant authorities.
One other European match is due to be played in London in midweek, with Chelsea scheduled to face Salzburg on Wednesday in Graham Potter’s first game as manager. On Sunday the expectation was that the fixture would be played and the same applied to Liverpool’s at home to Ajax on Tuesday and Manchester City’s at home to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. The PSV game is understood to be regarded by police as a higher-risk fixture than Chelsea’s.
The Queen’s coffin is due to lie in state at Westminster Hall from Wednesday until the funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday. Premier League clubs fear this could lead to postponements next weekend, when police resources in London will be more stretched than in midweek.
No away fans will be allowed at Rangers in a ruling that, “as a matter of sporting fairness”, will be also be applied to the reverse fixture in Naples. Uefa urged both sets of fans to respect an “extraordinary situation” by not travelling to either away fixture.
The news follows the postponement of all weekend football in Britain and Northern Ireland as a mark of respect. Friday and Saturday’s horse racing meetings were also called off, but other major sports including cricket, golf, rugby league and rugby union went ahead.
The National League has announced plans to resume activity as planned. A statement read: “The League can confirm that further to the announcement that the funeral for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be held on Monday 19 September, National League fixtures for week commencing Monday 12 September will go ahead as scheduled.
“Clubs, for all fixtures up until the funeral, will observe a one-minute silence prior to the game and will wear black armbands as a mark of respect.”
The scheduled Football League programme is also set to recommence on Tuesday.
With central London likely to attract crowds in the coming days, police resourcing could have an effect on the football fixture list. On Saturday Tottenham are due to host Leicester, while on Sunday Chelsea and Liverpool are set to meet at Stamford Bridge and Brentford take on Arsenal.
A Metropolitan police statement on Saturday said: “Whether matches go ahead is a matter for the football authorities. If fixtures do take place, the Met will work with the relevant partners and ensure that appropriate policing plans are in place.”
A DCMS spokesman said: “Our guidance will stay the same. There’s no obligation to cancel as far as the government is concerned. But it’s ultimately up to the Premier League and EFL to make those decisions.”
The decision to postpone the weekend’s football – which was made before most other major sports – proved a contentious one, not least because the government’s official mourning guidance stated there was “no obligation to cancel or postpone events and sporting fixtures”.
The Football Supporters Association described it as a squandered opportunity for people to “pay their respect to the Queen alongside their fellow fans” – an argument arguably vindicated by events at the Oval. The Test match between England and South Africa was preceded by a historic rendition of God Save the King, with players on both sides wearing black armbands.
On day three at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, a two-minute period of silence was held, while there were also tributes ahead of the Super League play-off eliminator between Huddersfield and Salford as well as in rugby union, in Premiership matches.
The Super League has also confirmed that the play-off semi-finals – Wigan v Leeds and St Helens v Salford – will go ahead as planned on 16-17 September, though the end-of-season awards will be rearranged after Buckingham Palace confirmed Monday 19 September as the date of the Queen’s funeral.
There will be no racing in Britain on the day of the Queen’s funeral. The British Horseracing Authority confirmed on Saturday evening that the 19 September meetings scheduled for Hamilton, Leicester, Warwick and Wolverhampton will be cancelled as a mark of respect.
Further guidance for the remainder of the national mourning period is expected to follow as early as possible next week.