Premier League games off as ‘mark of respect’ to queen
The English Premier League postponed its round of matches as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, adding to the cancellation of high-profile golf, cricket and horse racing across a mourning Britain on Friday.
The top-flight soccer clubs held a meeting on Friday and said they wanted to “pay tribute to Her Majesty’s long and unwavering service to our country.”
“This is a tremendously sad time for not just the nation but also for the millions of people around the world who admired her,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said, “and we join together with all those in mourning her passing.”
The English Football League — the three divisions below the Premier League — also called off their games this weekend. The Women’s Super League was due to start its season this weekend but has canceled its games, too.
The British government said it was at the discretion of individual sporting organizations whether fixtures went ahead following the death of the queen on Thursday at the age of 96.
British sport essentially shut down on Friday, but many events were planning to be up and running again on Saturday.
The BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event on the European tour, was paused near the end of the first round on Thursday following the announcement of the queen’s death — there were still 30 players out on the course — and there was no play on Friday.
Play will resume on Saturday, the tour said, for what will become a 54-hole event “with the intention to finish on Sunday as scheduled.”
“It is not possible to play the full 72 holes and finish on Monday as we cannot guarantee the staff, facilities or security of the venue on Monday due to the ongoing plans for the state funeral,” the tour said in a statement, adding there will be a two-minute silence at 9:50 a.m. local time Saturday.
The third and deciding test between England and South Africa will resume at the Oval in London on Saturday after the England and Wales Cricket Board decided there would be no play on Friday.
It will essentially be a three-day test — day one on Thursday was washed out — and all players and coaches will wear black armbands, observing a minute’s silence followed by the national anthem, “God Save the King.”
It wasn’t possible to add an extra day to the test match because the touring South Africans are flying home on Tuesday before heading to India and Australia.
The women’s world middleweight title fight between Savannah Marshall and Claressa Shields on Saturday was postponed.
Other events called off included cycling’s Tour of Britain, which canceled the final three stages, and the third day of horse racing’s St. Leger festival in Doncaster. The St. Leger, one of British racing’s classics, will take place on Sunday.
While Friday’s matches in England’s top rugby division were canceled, those scheduled for Saturday and Sunday will go ahead as planned.
Soccer matches in the English Football League and in the Scottish lower league scheduled for Friday had already been postponed while matches scheduled to be played in Northern Ireland over the weekend were also canceled.
The Premier League said further updates regarding its fixtures during the period of mourning, which has begun in Britain, will be provided “in due course.”
Organizations are having to weigh up factors such as whether holding matches would use up police resources, the desire of broadcasters and the mood of the public.
There is little room in the schedule of this World Cup-affected season to fit in postponed fixtures.
The government said sporting organizations “might wish to consider canceling or postponing events or closing venues on the day of the State Funeral.”
That date of the funeral has not been set.
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