Premier League, EFL and WSL fixtures postponed following death of the Queen

·4-min read
Premier League, EFL and WSL fixtures postponed following death of the Queen

Football matches across England, from the Premier League, EFL and WSL to grassroots level, have been postponed this weekend following the death of Her Majesty the Queen.

A statement from the Football Association confirmed a uniform response from across the sport, saying the Queen had “left a lasting and indelible legacy on our national game”.

A full slate of ten Premier League fixtures was due to take place across Saturday, Sunday and Monday but will now be rearranged as a mark of respect for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, who passed away at Balmoral on Thursday at the age of 96.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) chaired a cross-sport call on Friday morning, where it was confirmed that official guidance includes no obligation to cancel fixtures during the period of mourning, with postponements “at the discretion of individual organisations”.

Several other major sporting events are now expected to go ahead this weekend but Premier League clubs took the decision not to play following a shareholder’s meeting. It is understood that logistical concerns around policing were also considered.

HM Queen Elizabeth II Sporting Events

The Queen presents Bobby Moore with the World Cup in 1966 (PA Wire)
The Queen presents Bobby Moore with the World Cup in 1966 (PA Wire)
Queen Elizabeth II presents the trophy to British tennis player Virginia Wade after she won the Women's Singles competition at Wimbledon, 1st July 1977. (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II presents the trophy to British tennis player Virginia Wade after she won the Women's Singles competition at Wimbledon, 1st July 1977. (Getty Images)
German team captain Jurgen Klinsmann (L) raises the European Championship trophy presented to him by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (C) after his team beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in extra time at Wembley Stadium in London 30 June. At right is German goalkeeper Andreas Kopke. (AFP/Getty Images)
German team captain Jurgen Klinsmann (L) raises the European Championship trophy presented to him by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (C) after his team beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in extra time at Wembley Stadium in London 30 June. At right is German goalkeeper Andreas Kopke. (AFP/Getty Images)
David Beckham and Kirsty Howard handing the Queens Jubille Baton to Queen Elizabeth II after it’s  final leg around the city of Manchester stadium, at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. (Phil Noble/PA)
David Beckham and Kirsty Howard handing the Queens Jubille Baton to Queen Elizabeth II after it’s final leg around the city of Manchester stadium, at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. (Phil Noble/PA)
Gary Connery parachuted into the Olympic Stadium dressed as the Queen during the London 2012 opening ceremony (Lewis Whyld/PA) (PA Archive)
Gary Connery parachuted into the Olympic Stadium dressed as the Queen during the London 2012 opening ceremony (Lewis Whyld/PA) (PA Archive)
British actor Daniel Craig (L) playing James Bond escorting Britain's Queen Elizabeth II through the corridors of Buckingham Palace, London (AFP/Getty)
British actor Daniel Craig (L) playing James Bond escorting Britain's Queen Elizabeth II through the corridors of Buckingham Palace, London (AFP/Getty)
Queen Elizabeth II laughs with Jockey Ryan Moore and trainer Sir Michael Stoute after the Queen’s horse Estimate won The Gold Cup on Ladies’ Day during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2013 in Ascot (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II laughs with Jockey Ryan Moore and trainer Sir Michael Stoute after the Queen’s horse Estimate won The Gold Cup on Ladies’ Day during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2013 in Ascot (Getty Images)
The Queen inspects her horse Reach For The Moon (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen inspects her horse Reach For The Moon (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Archive)

“We and our clubs would like to pay tribute to Her Majesty’s long and unwavering service to our country,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said in a statement. "As our longest-serving monarch, she has been an inspiration and leaves behind an incredible legacy following a life of dedication.

"This is a tremendously sad time for not just the nation but also for the millions of people around the world who admired her, and we join together with all those in mourning her passing.”

It added that an update over further Premier League fixtures during the mourning period would be issued in due course. There could yet be further logistical issues around staging next weekend's matches in the run-up to the Queen's funeral, the date for which has not yet been confirmed.

The EFL had already announced the postponement of two Friday night fixtures - Burnley vs Norwich and Tranmere vs Stockport - and has now axed the rest of its programme across the Championship, League One and League Two, while the Women’s Super League (WSL) has followed suit.

This weekend was due to mark the start of the new WSL season and the first top-level women’s football to be played in this country since England’s European Championship triumph in the summer.

The FA’s statement then followed, confirming that matches throughout the non-league pyramid and at grassroots level would also not take place.

“All flags at Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park will continue to fly at half-mast over the weekend,” the statement continued. “Our thoughts remain with our president, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, and the whole of the Royal Family during this time.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Irish FA announced that all matches due to take place in Northern Ireland this weekend had been postponed. Decisions over football in Scotland and Wales are expected later on Friday.

No plans have yet been made as to when the suspended Premier League fixtures will take place but it is unlikely that they will be able to be played this side of the winter World Cup in Qatar, with the schedule already packed out with domestic and European competition. One option could be to play the matches as and when gaps in the schedule open up for individual clubs - as was the case with Covid-19 cancellations - rather than attempting to fit a full matchday into the calendar later in the campaign.

There is also the possibility of the season, currently scheduled to finish on May 28 next year, being extended but that would cause further complications with European club finals planned for early June, followed by an international window that includes the Uefa Nations League Finals.

No decision has yet been taken over next week’s European matches, which will depend upon the outcome of discussions with Uefa. Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all have home matches scheduled, while Tottenham, West Ham and both Manchester clubs are due to play away.

News of the Queen’s passing broke midway through Arsenal’s Europa League opener against FC Zurich on Thursday, with a minute’s silence held before the start of the second half.

Talks were held over the possibility of a postponement at the London Stadium, where West Ham were hosting Romanian side FCSB in the Europa Conference League, but guidance from the Government, FA and Uefa eventually saw the match go ahead due to safety concerns given the number of people already in the stadium.

A minute’s applause was held ahead of kick-off and players wore black armbands, as was the case at Old Trafford, where flags were flown at half-mast during United’s 1-0 defeat by Real Sociedad. All three clubs cancelled their post-match media activity as a mark of respect.