Arsenal’s Europa League match at home to PSV on Thursday has been postponed and Manchester United’s Premier League game with Leeds at Old Trafford on Sunday is expected to go the same way as policing issues related to the Queen’s funeral begin to affect football’s fixture list.
In a statement Uefa said the Arsenal tie was off due “to the severe limitations on police resources and organisational issues related to the ongoing events surrounding the national mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.
It is understood another factor in the decision was that the fixture was considered a higher-risk one because of the number of PSV fans due to travel, and their reputation.
Manchester United and Leeds have held talks with the police and due to the number of officers being deployed for the funeral they have been left with the impression that it will be extremely difficult for the grudge fixture to be staged.
The weekend’s Premier League games in London are at risk – Tottenham v Leicester on Saturday and Brentford v Arsenal and Chelsea v Liverpool on Sunday. Nottingham Forest fully expect their game at home to Fulham on Friday to go ahead.
A Uefa spokesman confirmed the Arsenal-PSV game had yet to be rescheduled. However Arsenal are expecting either their Premier League game against Manchester City on 19 October or their Carabao Cup versus Brighton in early November will have to be moved to accommodate the fixture.
The postponement comes amid continued uncertainty surrounding the weekend fixtures because of the Queen’s funeral. Officers from across the country are expected to be drafted into London over the coming days and for the ceremony itself, stretching resources in the capital and in other major cities.
The Premier League said it was working behind the scenes to get games on, where possible, and held more talks with the government on Monday morning.
One issue at this stage is that no one is certain how many people will come to see the Queen lying in state in London over the coming days. But if the reports suggesting a 20-hour wait turn out to be true, large numbers of police will need to be on hand.
Meanwhile a Football League source told the Guardian that while it wanted to play as many games as possible this weekend, and nothing was definitive, it would count as a success if the majority of the games kicked off then.
In the Championship, Millwall, QPR and Watford are due to be at home on Saturday, while Leyton Orient and Sutton United are the London clubs due to play home games in League Two.
Uefa is still expecting the midweek Champions League matches involving English teams, including Liverpool’s home match against Ajax on Tuesday, and Chelsea’s and Manchester City’s games at home against Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund respectively on Wednesday, to take place.
The EFL also confirmed on Monday that its midweek fixture programme would return as scheduled on Tuesday, with tributes to be paid to Queen Elizabeth II at grounds around the country.
“A minute’s silence will be held before matches, with black armbands to be worn by participants, flags to be flown at half-mast and the national anthem to be played in stadiums,” it said.
However the statement left open the potential for the weekend’s games to be postponed.
“With a national policing plan now in operation, the League and Clubs will continue to work with forces in respect of any challenges that may emerge regarding policing of specific fixtures,” it said. “Consideration to individual circumstances will be made on a case-by-case basis, in line with standard match Safety Advisory Group protocols.”
The Football Association said on Monday that all football at all levels was now clear to return but all matches scheduled for next Monday would be postponed.