Arsenal vs PSV in doubt but Chelsea vs RB Salzburg set to get green light as London matches face disruption

·3-min read
Arsenal vs PSV in doubt but Chelsea vs RB Salzburg set to get green light as London matches face disruption

Football clubs and police were set for further talks today amid the thread of more widespread disruption to the calendar after the death of the Queen, particularly in the capital.

The Queen’s body is set to lie in state at Westminster Hall from Wednesday until the funeral next Monday, and London clubs fear the strain on police resources could lead to further postponements this week and over the weekend.

Arsenal were this morning waiting to discover if their Europa League game against PSV Eindhoven on Thursday would be impacted, with talks ongoing with the Met and UEFA, and the governing body insisting that a number of options remain on the table.

There was optimism that Chelsea’s Champions League game against RB Salzburg on Wednesday night would go ahead as planned, however, with the Arsenal match considered higher risk due to its proximity to the weekend and the chequered history of travelling PSV supporters.

If the game cannot go ahead as normal, it could be played behind closed doors, moved to another venue or postponed.

UEFA has already moved Rangers’ Champions League home game against Napoli from Tuesday to Wednesday and banned away supporters.

The EFL confirmed on Monday that its fixture schedule would resume from Tuesday but acknowledged that "challenges...may emerge regarding the policing of specific fixtures", with matches to be considered "on a case-by-case basis".

There will be a minute’s silence held before all EFL matches, with black armbands worn by participants, flags to be flown at half-mast and the National Anthem to be played in grounds.

Millwall and QPR were confident their London derby at the Den on Wednesday would go ahead, although neither club was certain about their home games on Saturday, when the Lions host Blackpool and QPR entertain Stoke.

Among the other at-risk matches this weekend, Tottenham host Leicester on Saturday, while on Sunday Brentford face Arsenal and Chelsea entertain Liverpool.

Consideration has been given to reversing fixtures, although there are a number of logistical and sporting elements at play.

Everton are at home on Sunday, when Chelsea would instead head to Anfield, while Leicester Tigers play on Saturday, so Spurs would be unlikely to get the green light to play at Leicester, instead.

If Millwall were to reverse their fixture with Blackpool, the Lions would finish the season with four home fixtures from their last five matches but the Tangerines would end with three straight away games, which could impact the integrity of the Championship.

Police chiefs are working to fulfil as many fixtures as possible, with decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis.

A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: "We will work with football clubs to try and ensure that, where possible, football fixtures can take place safely when balanced against the requirement to support national events and deliver day-to-day policing."

All the professional matches this weekend were called off as a mark of respect for Britain’s longest-serving monarch and any further postponements would cause a major headache for authorities given the already-congested elite calendar.

The week starting January 16 would be the earliest opportunity for any top flight postponements to be replayed and with the international break looming, any clubs who suffer postponements next weekend would go four weeks without playing.