Football’s failure to plan properly for an eventuality decades in the making could have further impact on the teams and the leagues beyond just a free weekend, especially down the line when fixture congestion will hit even more severely than it had been expected to, but also next weekend already, when London will receive unprecedented crowds for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
The funeral itself is set for Monday, September 19 at 11am local time, but The Queen will lie in state at Westminster for four days for the public to pay their respects in person. And that’s certainly expected to draw record numbers to the capital, which will need practically all the available policing and safety resources as well. (Unlike this weekend, when policing concerns have been far less extraordinary.)
The decision to cancel games this weekend has painted the Premier League into a corner with regards to scheduling, with pressure now to stage the games next weekend despite it still being in the 10-day period of mourning. But as The Athletic’s report details, the three that are set to take place in London on Saturday and Sunday (Spurs v Leicester, Brentford v Arsenal, Chelsea v Liverpool) have very little logistical chance of happening.
Evidently, discussions are even taking place about switching home and away teams, and playing the reverse fixtures now instead, but doing something like that presents all sorts of different and equally difficult challenges — staffing, sporting, scheduling, etc. And in the case of Brentord v Arsenal, the reverse fixture would also be in London, so that doesn’t help.
As all other professional sports have shown, the reasonable response would’ve been to hold games this weekend as scheduled, and postpone next weekend’s matches for the actual funeral of such an important figure in British history. Unlike The Queen herself, football’s ruling bodies continue to show they’re hardly fit for purpose.