Sport facing decisions over weekend action following death of Queen at 96

A number of scheduled sporting events have been postponed following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, with further decisions regarding the weekend’s fixtures set to be taken on Friday.

The death of Elizabeth II, 96, who was the nation’s longest-reigning monarch and served as head of state for more than 70 years, was announced by Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

Sports stars and governing bodies paid tribute to The Queen, and event organisers are now considering the most appropriate and respectful course of action regarding competitions scheduled for the weekend.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced that Friday’s play in the men’s third Test between England and South Africa at The Oval would not take place.

The English Football League postponed two matches scheduled for Friday – Burnley v Norwich in the Championship and Tranmere v Stockport in League Two.

Play was suspended on the first day of the PGA Championship golf at Wentworth when news of The Queen’s death was announced, and the European Tour confirmed there would be no play on Friday.

“Out of respect for Her Majesty and the Royal Family, play has been suspended at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club for the remainder of Thursday and flags at Wentworth Club will be lowered to half-mast,” a Tour statement said.

“Furthermore, no play will take place at the BMW PGA Championship on Friday and the golf course and practice facilities will be closed.

“Further updates on the resumption of play will be provided in due course.”

Decisions regarding further postponements in the sporting calendar are set to be determined following consideration of official mourning guidance, set to be issued by the Cabinet Office in the coming hours.

However, it is understood it will be left to sports event organisers to decide how to proceed, and postponements will not be mandatory.

A meeting involving representatives from sports governing bodies and the Government is scheduled for Friday morning.

The PA news agency understands there will be no announcement from the Premier League on Thursday evening regarding this weekend’s fixtures with an update expected following the meeting with Government on Friday morning.

Newcastle, who had been due to hold a pre-match press conference at 9am on Friday, have delayed it until 1.30pm.

The Scottish Professional Football League, meanwhile, said Friday’s Championship contest between Dundee and Cove Rangers had been postponed as a mark of respect.

The Tour of Britain, scheduled to finish on the Isle of Wight on Sunday, was cancelled and Friday’s Great North 5K went the same way, while the Scottish Rugby Union announced the suspension of all competitive domestic matches under its jurisdiction this weekend.

Manchester United’s home clash in the Europa League with Real Sociedad went ahead on Thursday night, with the club saying in a statement: “Following direction from the FA and UEFA, tonight’s UEFA Europa League fixture against Real Sociedad will take place as planned at Old Trafford.

Manchester United players take part in a minute's silence before their Europa League match against Real Sociedad
Manchester United players take part in a minute’s silence before their Europa League match against Real Sociedad (Martin Rickett/PA)

“A minute’s silence will be held before kick-off which will allow the teams, match officials and everyone in attendance to pay their respects to Her Majesty, The Queen. Both teams will wear black armbands and the flags at Old Trafford will fly at half-mast as a sign of our utmost respect.”

The raucous visiting fans went silent and United supporters’ anti-Glazer chants stopped before kick-off as Old Trafford held a minute’s silence in memory of Her Majesty.

There had been no pre-match music and the digital advertising hoardings were switched off following the news that arrived as turnstiles opened to the ground. Both sets of players donned black armbands, with United manager Erik ten Hag wearing one over his suit.

Rugby league’s Betfred Championship fixture between Sheffield Eagles and Dewsbury Rams on Friday has been postponed but the Super League Elimination Play-Off being played in Perpignan will go ahead with the players of Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos wearing black armbands.

The International Rugby League (IRL) paid tribute to the Queen as patron of the Rugby Football League until 2016, with IRL chair Troy Grant saying in statement the game was “grateful for her support over many years”.

Rafael Nadal became the latest big name athlete to pay his respects, writing on Twitter he sent his “most respectful, sincere and deepest condolences” to the royal family as they mourn.