I understand that for many people today’s topic is a rather controversial one. This weekend’s Premier League matches, and indeed all football matches, have been postponed as a mark of respect for the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II. I have seen online and on TV of how this has impacted people and for some people this is a big loss. I get it. I am not a royalist. I have no unbridled love for the Monarchy. But nor am I anti-monarchy. They are an institution, part of our tradition in the UK and I am in no means minded to hope for its dissolution in favour of a republic because I think it would lose part of what we identify as Britain’s or indeed as people from all over the commonwealth.
That being said, the decision to postpone all football whatsoever at every level of the game, is a wrong one in my opinion.
Firstly, let’s look at the levels of the game, because there are games called off for Children’s football. How on earth is depriving children of football matches for a few hours on a weekend – and let’s not forget it is just a few hours, so there are plenty of opportunities to show respect over this weekend and the next week – really going to have any other impact other than a negative one? It just doesn’t make sense to me. These kids won’t fully understand why the game has been played and having deprived them of so much activity during the global pandemic, why is having them playing football really going to have any impact or show any level of disrespect?
Secondly, when we look further up the levels and in to the professional game, how is completely shutting down football going to impact the level of respect? In fact what it does is deprive people of coming together to talk about the Queen as a collective. On Sunday I would have gone to the Emirates, I would have spent some time chatting with mates that I only really see at the football because we don’t live near each other, have busy lives, etc. Sure, we have a WhatsApp group and can chat about things, but face-to-face interaction holds far more emotion and a sense of togetherness. During the match itself there would have been an impeccable minutes silence observed for Her Majesty, probably also a rendition of The Last Post before Kick off and maybe wreaths laid down as a mark of respect. None of that will happen this weekend now. Instead, people are at home, NOT coming together.
Thirdly, to the people who have travelled from far and wide to watch football, who have now missed out on what for some might have been their first ever Arsenal game. I bet there would have been some people in the stadium who spent a lot of money getting to the match and because of where they live, they may never get the chance to see The Arsenal live again. Imagine for those people – lovers of the Queen or not – to be able to be in the ground and be part of the celebration of her life, as well as the respect of acknowledging it.
Fourthly, to the rest of the sporting world, many of whom have decided to carry on and play competitive sport this weekend. They will be observing the respect and celebrating the life of the Queen this weekend in the golf, the cricket, the rugby and many other sports. Are these sports suddenly not respecting the Queen? Or are they about to show exactly why sport and life in general SHOULD go on. It is going on for everyone else. I worked yesterday, people will be working in all other professions, so why has football arbitrarily decided that it should be the outlier compared to every other part of life? The decision made collectively by the football authorities feels wrong to me and I cannot find a valid enough reason to see why this decision has been made.
There’s is the trivial note to add in to this of the fixture congestion given the World Cup this season, but I understand that that is a mere footnote in this debate. But it is still a debate point that needs mentioning, because I have no idea when these matches are going to be played. They can’t now be played this side of the World Cup and they won’t be played straight away as soon as players get back, because that’s the Christmas schedule which will be packed. You’re probably looking at a midweek in February or March for these matches to be played. That can of course happen but for some teams that will give an advantage that right now they would not have had.
There are probably a wealth of other reasons that I just haven’t thought of that make this decision both baffling and incorrect to me. I don’t understand it and I feel like the Queen herself would probably have thought “why on earth are you doing this?” because she was a wonderful person who was incredibly humble. She is probably up there wondering why all of the fuss and for somebody who was a figurehead of the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ era, this doesn’t really ring true to the reality of what those words mean.
Just my opinion, hopefully delivered respectfully.
Catch you all tomorrow.