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Wrong call, Premier League: Cancelling football after the Queen's death benefits absolutely no one

12:16 BST 09/09/2022
Queen Elizabeth II West Ham
The Football Association has decided to postpone all matches across all levels this weekend but the gesture does little to honour Her Majesty.

Queen Elizabeth II loved sport

Horse racing was her main passion but she loved watching Wimbledon from the royal box and was in attendance for major sporting events throughout her 70-year reign, including at the 2012 London Olympics.

Her most iconic moment synonymous with football was also the greatest in England's long history with the sport - handing the Jules Rimet Trophy to Bobby Moore following their triumph at Wembley in 1966.

Only last year, after England’s women success at the European Championship, her message of support summed up the feelings of many that have watched and helped the women’s game grow so spectacularly.

"Your success goes far beyond the trophy you have so deservedly earned," the Queen wrote. "You have all set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations.

"It is my hope that you will be as proud of the impact you have had on your sport as you are of the result today."

The Queen's ability to forever strike the right tone is just one of the reasons why her death will have affected so many across the UK, and the country will now go into a period of mourning.

Sporting authorities were given the freedom to decide how to respond and the Premier League and Football League have postponed this weekend's fixtures.

In coming to a decision, the associated governing authorities had to consider what would be gained by halting football and it is certainly a powerful gesture to recognising her remarkable reign.

However, more consideration should have been given to what would be lost by cancelling matches across the country, from the glitz of the Premier League to the muddy pitches of junior football.

Indeed, it seems a strange logic to cancel many of the things that the Queen loved, as a mark of respect.

For the thousands of football fans in mourning, there will be no opportunity for a mass gathering to show their appreciation.

No chance to sing the national anthem or be part of a celebration to honour her life and achievements.

No black armbands or minute's silences for clubs, players and supporters to visibly show their respect - as was so impeccably observed at Old Trafford for Manchester United's Europa League meeting with Real Sociedad.

West Ham's Europa Conference clash with FCSB also went ahead on Thursday night at the insistence of UEFA, and was met with a fitting response by the club.

Cancellation would have been an outrage to the Spanish and Romanian fans that had taken time off work and paid their travel to make the trip to England.

And supporters in this country will now be affected by these postponements. Tickets have been bought, travel arranged, plans made - now all cancelled.

There will be children looking forward to watching their heroes that will miss out and potentially be forced to forget about a midweek rearrangement on a school night.

Boys and girls will also miss out on playing in their cherished local matches.

There should have been a wider context for making the decision, taking into account a population that is still reeling from the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the shock of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and an impending energy crisis that is going to have serious impacts on working families.

Football has, and always will be, a welcome release from the working weekdays, a chance for enjoyment and harmony with friends and families, even if results don’t always go as hoped.

Now, more than ever, people need a release and a 90 minutes to forget about the difficult times that they have been through or are facing.

But it’s also an industry and there will be many that will suffer financially from a weekend without football.

From the local pubs dependent on the massive matchday influx of punters and the freelance workers at stadiums all the way down the to the young referees that earn their pocket money on the local pitches - many will be financially impacted by the decision.

Whether royalist or republican, the majority will have been saddened by the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Across the world, people have been paying their tributes but football has chosen the wrong way to honour her extraordinary life.