EPL back this weekend without Man Utd vs Leeds and Chelsea against Liverpool
The postponements leave League bosses with an additional fixture pile-up to contend with
English Premier League chiefs have called off the weekend’s two biggest matches because police resources are required to deal with the lead-up to The Queen’s funeral.
Chelsea’s home clash with Liverpool and Manchester United’s game with Leeds are both postponed - despite the FA giving football the green light to resume across the country.
The decision came hours after Uefa pulled the plug on Arsenal’s Europa League tie with PSV Eindhoven, citing “severe limitations on police resources and organisational issues” relating to the funeral.
That sparked fears that the Prem programme would be significantly impacted by demands on the police.
But after a day of talks between the authorities, Prem chiefs announced the other seven matches due to be played this weekend WILL go ahead, including two in London.
Although Brighton’s game with Crystal Palace remains off.
In a statement, the Prem said: “Following extensive consultation with clubs, police, local Safety Advisory Groups and other relevant authorities, there was no other option but to postpone the three fixtures.”
The postponements leave League bosses with an additional fixture pile-up to contend with although things would have been even worse if, as had looked likely, the majority of games had bitten the dust.
Instead, with Aston Villa against Southampton and Nottingham Forest versus Fulham staying as Friday night games, there will now be three games on Saturday and two on Sunday.
Kick-off times for the Saturday games at Wolves (12.30), Newcastle (3pm) and Spurs (5.30pm) have not been changed.
But Brentford vs Arsenal - which along with Tottenham’s match against Leicester had been under threat - will now start two hours earlier than scheduled, at noon, with Everton against West Ham pushed back 15 minutes to 2.15pm.
Earlier, the FA confirmed the return to play at all levels, with Tuesday’s Champions League game between Liverpool and Ajax, six Championship matches and the full programme in Leagues One and Two cleared.
Clubs have been “recommended” to hold a minute’s silence before all matches with players and officials wearing black armbands.
Wednesday’s Champions League games at Chelsea and Manchester City are also on but the competition anthem will not be played before kick-off at any of the games in England or Scotland.
The postponement of Arsenal’s game with the Dutch giants, though, leaves Uefa and the clubs scrambling to find a new date and the possibility that the Gunners may have to forfeit a 0-3 defeat.
With 3,000 PSV fans due to travel from Holland for a match which was classed as “Category One” by the police, it was clear that there would not be sufficient officers in attendance at the Emirates.
The decision means the majority of matches in the EFL, the delayed start of the Women’s Super League and Championship and non-league and grass roots football will go ahead at the weekend, although some games may still be postponed if requested by the police.
The wave of postponements set in motion by The Queen’s death last week have already forced domestic fixtures planners into emergency session.
Now Uefa faces a similar issue over Arsenal’s group match as the congested fixture list and Qatar 2022 means that the Euro tie may not be played before early January, two months after the November 7 draw for the knock-out phase.
The draw can go ahead with the two qualification places from Arsenal’s Group A unconfirmed and theoretically the first available date to make up the game would be January 10.
But Uefa could determine Arsenal are “to blame” for the postponement - as they are unable to fulfil the fixture - and award the points to the Dutch side, following precedents set during matches cancelled through Covid outbreaks.
One alternative would be for the game to be slotted in on October 19, when Arsenal are due to be playing Manchester City in a full midweek Prem round, but that would both compromise TV contracts and be something League chiefs would resist.
While Villa’s game with Southampton was moved for TV reasons, Forest asked for their switch because the Royal London Cup Final is being held at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
And while Brighton’s game with Palace had been postponed because of the planned rail strike that is now not taking place, the match will not be reinstated this weekend.
The Prem added: “We would like to thank the UK Football Policing Unit and other police forces across the country, as well as our broadcast partners, for their support during this process, and will continue to liaise with them ahead of the weekend.
“For the matches being played during the period of National Mourning, tributes will be paid to The Queen at Premier League stadiums.
“New dates for the postponed matches will be announced in due course.”
Premier League fixtures
Friday 16 September
8pm Aston Villa v Southampton (Sky Sports)
8pm Nottingham Forest v Fulham
Saturday 17 September
12.30pm Wolves v Man City (BT Sport)
3pm Newcastle v Bournemouth
5.30pm Spurs v Leicester City (Sky Sports)
Postponed Brighton v Crystal Palace
Sunday 18 September
12pm Brentford v Arsenal (Sky Sports)
2.15pm Everton v West Ham (Sky Sports)
Postponed Chelsea v Liverpool
Postponed Man Utd v Leeds