Sport in mourning with English events suspended in tribute to the Queen | Sport
Sport in mourning with English events suspended in tribute to the Queen | Sport

Sport will hold a day of mourning for the Queen on Friday, with the third Test between England and South Africa and the PGA championship at Wentworth among the events to be paused for at least a day as a mark of respect.

All Football League fixtures on Friday and the third day of racing’s St Leger festival at Doncaster have also been called off, while the RFU will announce in the morning whether Bristol v Bath and Sale v Northampton will go ahead. However, rugby league’s Super League elimination playoff between Catalan and Leeds will go ahead as it is in Perpignan.

Several sports will also hold urgent talks in the morning to decide whether play should resume at the weekend, with most hoping to do so depending on the public mood over the next 24 hours. Many are encouraged by indications from the government that the palace is not keen to have a lengthy period without fixtures or events.

However, football may yet be an exception, with the Premier League and English Football League set to meet at 9am to agree a final position. Some in the game are mindful of not taking up police resources or barriers, while others believe a longer period of mourning would be more appropriate. It could yet lead to the entire weekend of games being postponed.

Sports received official guidance from the department for digital, culture, media and sport only hours after the Queen’s death due to a fear of leaks, leaving them with little time to plan for the weekend.

That has led to frustration among some as they rushed to decide what to do next. One observer at both meetings told the Guardian that a key discussion among all sports centred around whether a one-day or longer suspension to mark the Queen’s death was more appropriate.

Another said they believed that the majority of sports wanted to resume on Saturday, although they indicated that all would be mindful of the public mood over the next 24 hours.

It is understood that the ECB is looking at a variety of options for the third Test between England and South Africa, which range from applying to the ICC to extend the match by an extra day to cancelling it completely. However, it is thought that it is more likely that the Test continues at some point this weekend, with a suitable mark of respect for the Queen.

A similar attitude exists among the European Tour after the PGA Championship was immediately suspended for the day after the news of her death broke. In a statement, the DP Tour also said that play would be suspendedon Friday, with the golf course and practice facilities also closed.

The Football League, which confirmed that Friday’s Burnley v Norwich City and Tranmere Rovers v Stockport County games had been postponed, said it was yet to decide about the rest of the weekend’s programme.

“A determination regarding the remainder of this weekend’s scheduled fixtures will be made following a review of the official mourning guidance, in addition to further consultation with DCMS and other sports on Friday morning,” it said.

FC Zürich and Arsenal players and fans participate in a minute’s silence before the second half of their Europa League match on Thursday.
FC Zürich and Arsenal players and fans participate in a minute’s silence before the second half of their Europa League match on Thursday. Photograph: FreshFocus/MB Media/Getty

Some action did carry on after the Queen’s death on Thursday, including Manchester United’s Europa League game with Real Sociedad. However, a minute’s silence was held before kick-off, while players wore black armbands.

Meanwhile British Racing paid tribute to the Queen, calling her “one of the greatest and most influential supporters in the history of horse racing”.

“From her first-ever winner Monaveen, through stars such as Carrozza and Highclere, to the unforgettable Estimate, her Majesty The Queen has helped to shape the breed and contributed to moments on the track that will go down in sporting folklore,” it said. “It is right, therefore, that all racing is suspended for today and tomorrow as we begin to grieve Her Majesty’s passing and remember her extraordinary life and contribution to our sport and our nation.”

The British Olympic Association chair, Hugh Robertson, also offered his respects, adding that: “As patron of the British Olympic Association, her support for the Olympic Movement in this country and, in particular, the London 2012 Olympic Games cannot be underestimated and shall never be forgotten.”

Meanwhile Leah Williamson, the captain of England’s women’s football team, highlighted the Queen’s impact on national life for decades. “A constant presence of grace and decency in a world that continued to change around her,” she wrote. “To comprehend the loss of our Queen is almost impossible, because it seemed, and we hoped, she could reign for ever. A wonderful monarch but an exceptional person.”

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