Wednesday 17 January 2018

Big kick-off hangs in balance

The Premier League were under pressure last night to resist delaying the start of the new season, with QPR co-owner Bernie Ecclestone claiming that postponements would send a "terrible message" to the rest of the world, writes Jeremy Wilson.

As Kenny Dalglish pleaded for calm on the streets of Liverpool, the viability of the weekend's fixtures remained in serious doubt.

A decision on the matches is likely today and will ultimately be dependent on whether individual police forces can commit sufficient resources for the clubs to obtain a safety certificate from their local authority.

QPR are due to host Bolton on Saturday, with Spurs and Fulham also at home in the three games at most risk following the rioting across England this week.

The clubs are in talks with the police and the Premier League, but there is a general acceptance that the situation remains fluid and could change right up until the morning of the matches.

The Premier League is beamed to more than 200 countries and Ecclestone is mindful of the impact on the global image of both England and the sport.

He said it was right that England's international against Holland was called off last night, but described it as "a disaster."

"The Premier League is watched everywhere," said Ecclestone, in a plea for the matches to go ahead. "So, it's a very bad message for England." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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