Saturday 25 November 2017

Riots threaten to derail big kick-off

Henry Winter

This weekend's Premier League and Football League programme faces mass postponements after the riots continued to spread from London last night.

Police resources are stretched across England, casting doubt on whether safety certificates will be issued for many games. A decision will be made tomorrow.

While trouble was flared in several cities last night, the focus for the moment remains on London and whether the Tottenham v Everton, Fulham v Aston Villa and QPR v Bolton Premier League games will go ahead on Saturday.

However, it's by no means certain that games scheduled for other cities will go ahead, either.

Liverpool's match against Sunderland on Saturday and Manchester United's visit to West Brom on Sunday are among other fixtures under threat.

Major games need 100 police officers and and, if a police force cannot guarantee that they will have sufficient resources to police a game, then the home club will not receive a safety certificate and will have no option but to postpone the fixture.

"The Premier League and Football League are saddened by the recent incidents of civil unrest and the effect it is having on local communities,'' said a spokesman for the two leagues.

"We are in ongoing discussions with our London-based clubs, the Metropolitan Police and statutory authorities in regard to the staging of the coming weekend's fixtures in the capital.

"The Metropolitan Police has conveyed to us the dynamic nature of the current situation and, with that in mind, all parties will review the situation on Thursday.''

The riots earlier caused the postponement of the friendly between England and Holland, which was due to played at Wembley tonight.

The game was cancelled by the FA (after consultation with the Metropolitan Police and Brent Council), partly because the safety of the players could not be guaranteed.

After the decision was made to cancel the match, the entire England squad, as well as Fabio Capello, accompanied FA chairman David Bernstein to a press conference at their hotel in Hertfordshire. The decision to come en masse was made by John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.

Having watched the footage of the previous night's riots at breakfast together, many of the players told the FA that they expected the match to be called off.

The players thought it would be unwise for them to speak individually about the riots with the situation changing all the time, but a statement was read on their behalf in which they appealed "for calm and an end to the disorder".

The players' statement said: "We've all seen the terrible pictures on the television and the most important thing is the safety of the fans and the general public." (© Daily Telgraph, London)

Irish Independent

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