x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Continued unrest may affect weekend Premier League games

The Premier League will decide Thursday if the opening round of fixtures this weekend are to be postponed following continued rioting around the country.

Tottenham Hotspurs opener against Everton may be cancelled if the unrest that has gripped the country continues.
Tottenham Hotspurs opener against Everton may be cancelled if the unrest that has gripped the country continues.

The Premier League will decide Thursday if the opening round of fixtures this weekend are to be postponed following continued rioting across the country.

London remained relatively calm on Tuesday night because of an increased police presence, but problems in other cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham have raised doubts over games going ahead.

The Premier League and Football League, which runs the three divisions below the top tier, are due to meet to decide whether games in the capital will go ahead.

Before trouble continued to spread to other cities, both leagues had said they had no reason to believe any games outside of London would be affected.

A statement from the leagues on Tuesday said: "The Premier League and Football League are saddened by the recent incidents ... 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."

Last night's England v Holland friendly at Wembley was cancelled, as were a number of Carling Cup matches in London and one in Bristol, plus last night's friendly between Ghana and Nigeria at Watford's Vicarage Road.

Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief and one of the owners of Queens Park Rangers, says calling off the fixtures would send a "terrible message" to the world.

"The Premier League is watched all over the world and wherever I travel and turn on the TV I see Manchester United playing someone," Ecclestone told the BBC.

"It is important, and it is watched worldwide, so it gives a very bad message about England and we're about to have the Olympic Games so it is not a good message to give."

However, Greg Clarke, chairman of the Football League, warned that several matches could be postponed.

"Our priority is to make sure the police are out there dealing with unrest on the streets," he told Sky Sport News. "We want to keep our games going ahead, but that is a secondary priority. We have to support the police and the government in making the streets safe ... If they need to move police away from football games, we will cancel those football games."

Several players have spoken out, with Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand using Twitter to say: "Unrest now in Manchester ... come on now ... this isn't the way ... stooooooooop it. What is this in aid of?? Innocent people are the victims." Jay Bothroyd of QPR added: "I've woke [sic] up to yet more anarchy and violence, I can't believe the behaviour of people it's disgusting ... Get the army out".