(WFI) Premier League bosses will decide tomorrow whether to postpone some or all of the opening fixtures for the new season after the London riots sparked copycat violence on the streets of other cities including Birmingham and Manchester.
Football League chiefs are also considering postponing matches.
INSIDER was told by both leagues today that they were speaking to individual clubs to assess the risks in staging matches at grounds across England.
The Premier League is holding a briefing in London on Thursday at which
its CEO Richard Scudamore will speak about the matter and give his views
on the season ahead.
The streets of the British capital were relatively quiet last night due to the deployment of 10,000 more police officers following three nights of running battles with police. But Manchester experienced its worst night of violence in 30 years.
Police arrested 113 people following public disorder and looting across Greater Manchester.
Manchester United, the Premier League champions, are scheduled to play their opening match at West Bromwich Albion in Birmingham on Sunday.
Manchester City host Premiership newcomers Swansea on Monday.
London clubs Fulham, QPR and Tottenham are in talks with the Met Police about the safety issues involved in staging their home games against Aston Villa, Bolton and Everton respectively on Saturday.
QPR’s billionaire owner and Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told BBC Sport that cancelling Premier League games after the riots would send “a terrible message to the world”.
“The PL is watched everywhere I travel. I always see Manchester United on the TV wherever I am. So it’s a very bad message for England, and we’re going to have the Olympics soon,” he said.
In a joint statement before the Manchester rioting, the Premier League and Football League said: “We are in on-going discussions with our London-based clubs, the Metropolitan Police and statutory authorities, in regard to the staging of the coming weekend’s fixtures in the capital.
“The Metropolitan Police has conveyed to us the dynamic nature of the current situation and with that in mind all parties will review the situation on Thursday and make a further public statement at that time.
“We are conscious of the need to keep fans informed of any developments and will, of course, keep them as up-to-date as possible through club, league and media channels.”
The London riots have already led to the cancellation of tonight’s England’s friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley, while Tuesday’s Carling Cup matches involving several second and third tier London clubs were called off.
Ahead of the season launch, the Premier League has announced the first batch of fixtures to be broadcast in the UK.
Last season’s top four sides – Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal – will feature live on Sky Sports and ESPN on the opening weekend, if the games go ahead as planned.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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