Arsenal’s Premier League match with Brentford has been given the go-ahead for Sunday but the kick-off at the Community Stadium has been brought forward two hours to 12pm.
The decision came hours after the Gunners confirmed that Thursday’s Europa League game with PSV Eindhoven has been postponed due to a Metropolitan Police resourcing issue while Queen Elizabeth II lies in state ahead of her funeral on Monday.
It’s something of a head-scratcher given Arsenal were the only side due to play in London on Thursday whereas Sp*rs play their match on Saturday evening on an afternoon when Queens Park Rangers, Watford (technically outside London), Millwall and Leyton Orient also have fixtures scheduled.
If the presence of away fans is a deal breaker for the police, it’s notable that Rangers skirted around the issue this week by agreeing with Napoli that travelling fans won’t be permitted at either of their Champions League games. The other option could have been to play behind closed doors. For whatever reason, neither path was agreed upon.
We should point out that the Premier League clashes between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge and Manchester United versus Leeds at Old Trafford have been postponed this weekend “following extensive consultation with clubs, police, local Safety Advisory Groups and other relevant authorities.’
Crystal Palace’s trip to Brighton was never rearranged having originally been cancelled because of a train strike that now isn’t going ahead because Aslef, the train drivers’ union, didn’t want to be accused of disrespecting the monarchy during a period of national mourning.
Last weekend, all matches in England from the Premier League down to the grassroots level were postponed as a mark of respect to the Queen following the news of her death on Thursday.
Other sports, including cricket and rugby, went ahead which naturally led to questions as to why football felt the need to act differently.
As things stand Everton’s league visit to the Emirates and PSV’s trip to London still need to be rearranged. The former will likely take place after Christmas, once the World Cup has been completed, but it’s likely Uefa will want the Europa League tie done in the coming weeks. If a suitable date isn’t available, Arsenal are at risk of having to forfeit.