As pretty much all of you will be aware, the last few days has been a terrifying ordeal for all those communities affected by such mindless acts of rioting and looting, in our main cities such as Birmingham and London. All those who were desperately looking forward to this weekend’s opening fixtures could face the frustrating truth of knowing that it will have to be delayed.
This weekend, six out of the ten fixtures are in cities affected by the riots, with only the matches in Blackburn, Wigan, Newcastle and Stoke looking likely to go ahead. Tomorrow, a decision will be made as to whether postponement of fixtures is necessary. A lot of you will no doubt be infuriated if they would have to be postponed, especially if you have bought tickets to the match and have waited for this moment just about as soon as the last campaign came to a conclusion.
No doubt the authorities will do everything possible to make sure the fixtures will still go ahead as schedule – failure to do so would create a huge backlog of fixtures before the season has even started, on top of the disruption to clubs and fans alike. But with normal citizens’ lives at risk, compromising a day of matches seem the last of the police’s worries.
It is no so much that the games cannot go ahead due to the rioters targeting the stadiums, nor really is it the fact that fans cannot get there (though this is certainly a factor). It is the fact that police is needed elsewhere in the region, or even country, in order to sort these rioters out.
The majority of teams will have been affected by an international break this week, just before the start of the season, and with many managers opposing that when it was announced. But with all international players, bar England and Holland players, gone on an international break, would it be such a bad idea if it was postponed? Having to play just three days before the start of the campaign can be very tiring and energy-zapping for the players; would a postponement of fixtures not be welcome? Would it be too much to ask to contain your excitement for a few more days? And isn’t it much better use of the police to be out there saving your town and your country, even if it means compromising your one ticket (which your club will no doubt fully refund to you, like the England friendly)? Formula 1 chief and QPR owner Bernie Ecclestone said it would be a disaster if Premier League games do not go ahead, but surely, with what is at risk, it is not much more than a shame?