With no Arsenal going on this weekend, the news from a football front is understandably light, unfortunately. I’ve made my point and stated my case with regards to the weekend’s fixtures and I haven’t seen anything to suggest to me that the decision to postpone the games was the right one, but there we are, life moves on.
Except it might not from a footballing perspective, not just yet, unfortunately. There is talk that the PSV game might not go ahead because of the fact that there will need to be an enhanced police presence in the City in the lead up to the State funeral, which will be in a week’s time on Monday. The talk is of the London fixtures being potentially postpone and I’ve also seen these rumours that PSV on Thursday is in doubt too. Firstly, on the PSV tie, which again the noises are about police presence with away fans coming from abroad. My hope is that of course the game goes ahead on Thursday but I’d also read from last weekend that the policing was not a consideration from the games last weekend and that also the police had been consulted about Thursday night’s game and they didn’t have too much of an issue.
I’ve also seen the question raised about not having away fans travel. How harsh would that be on PSV fans? Bought your ticket, an away trip to London, spent a fair amount of money on travel, but told you can’t show up and watch your team. And if you’re a PSV fan you’re questioning whether it’s fair that your team doesn’t have any away support, yet when the reverse fixture is played, the Arsenal team and fans will be able to support their team.
If it is an issue of numbers from a police perspective, surely police forces from outside of the Met can be ‘loaned’ out to handle any requirements for trained officers who are used to crowd control and dealing with football fans? After all we have officers from up and down the country who regularly attend matches in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, etc. Could that not be a consideration if the numbers are lighter? And if that is something that could be arranged, then I suspect the games will go ahead in midweek.
It could surely also be a consideration for the weekend too, no? Brighton’s police would be available and they are used to crowd control regularly, including games and also Pride and with Southampton also away this coming weekend at Aston Villa, could support not be lended to the capital’s police force from some of those areas? I know I am not an expert in policing, I am sure it is a considerably more complex situation than just bussing a load of bobbies in for the weekend, but solutions surely have to be found rather than to just postpone a load of London-based games now.
I’ve seen the idea floated that games be flipped in terms of reversing the fixtures, but that won’t work for some games, for sure. Chelsea are due to be at home to Liverpool on Sunday at 4.30pm, but you can’t just move that game up to the North West with six days to go. This isn’t Hillingdon under-11s versus Hayes Town Juniors; these games require planning, structure, correct organisation and operation. There are fans who have travelled from miles and miles and all over the globe who will be here. There are home fans who suddenly don’t get to see their team whereas the away fans suddenly have to think about getting their travel plans cancelled or re-arranged, refunds, etc. There are just too many logistical challenges to make swapping the fixtures viable.
Then there’s our fixture, in which we go to Brentford, in which flipping it would make absolutely no sense whatsoever because these are two London clubs. If anything, flipping that fixture would make it worse because the police would have to deal with 60,000 supporters descending on a ground as opposed to the 17,250 that the Brentford Community Stadium holds. If you’re talking about police presence, you’d think the Brentford game would have been one of the easier games to police and therefore would be one of the last games you should be calling off. Instead, you could look at games like the one the Scum are playing against Leicester as a game that must be considered as a potential, given the larger number of fans descending upon Tottenham for the game.
If the games are postponed there’s the fixture congestion that is an issue, but there will also be an issue of sporting integrity later in the season. Right now the players are all relatively fresh having just started the season, so fatigue doesn’t really play in to it, but those teams in European competition may still be in European competition in the new year, so it isn’t just a case of finding a free midweek and slotting it in there; the Arsenal players, for example, could be at a disadvantage to the Everton/Brentford players, who have had no midweek football and so therefore will potentially in a better position than they would have been had we played this last weekend/coming weekend. This is especially true if you have a ‘big’ European game i.e. in the knockout stages and you have to field your strongest team, as opposed to rotating the slide a little like we did last Thursday.
I appreciate this is a sensitive subject and that it is a difficult situation for all concerned, but some sort of resolution needs to be found and it can’t just be to push everything back in to the new year, can it?
I’ll leave it at that for now. Catch you all tomorrow.