Some Premier League fixtures could be postponed once again this weekend because broadcaster Sky Sports is reportedly experiencing a shortage of equipment.
The Premier League is hoping to return this week after the decision was taken to postpone all matches over the weekend out of respect for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away aged 96 on Thursday. However, fulfilling fixtures will be complicated by the Queen’s funeral on Monday, September 19, and the events surrounding it.
A full round of fixtures was originally scheduled to take place this coming weekend, including Aston Villa v Southampton on Friday night, Tottenham v Leicester City on Saturday evening and Manchester United v Leeds and Chelsea v Liverpool on Sunday. The possibility of all of those matches going ahead had already been placed in doubt due to the thinly-spread resources of the police, who have been called to London to ensure safety at royal events.
There are now further concerns to consider, according to the Daily Mail, which reports that the Queen’s funeral and the accession of King Charles III is also impacting Sky Sports. The broadcaster has poured resources into covering the unprecedented royal events on Sky News during the 10-day period of mourning, meaning there now may not be enough to go around to fulfil their football obligations.
The Premier League’s primary broadcaster is scheduled to show four matches this weekend, starting with the opening fixture between Villa and Southampton in Birmingham at 8pm on Friday. Sky Sports also has the rights to three London-based fixtures: Spurs v Leicester on Saturday, as well as Brentford v Arsenal and Chelsea v Liverpool on Sunday.
Sky’s shortage of outside broadcast trucks, other equipment and staff is particularly acute, considering they also have two live Championship matches on Saturday, plus Scottish Premier League and Women’s Super League fixtures the following day.
The Premier League, its clubs and the police are understood to be conducting a series of meetings on Monday to discuss the problem of staging fixtures this weekend. Up to 10,000 police officers are set to be deployed in London over the weekend, ahead of the Queen’s funeral service at Westminster Abbey at 11am on Monday. It will be Britain’s first state funeral since the death of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.
One option that has been suggested is moving fixtures away from London to try and alleviate overcrowding and policing problems. But that would likely prove extremely unpopular with those clubs who would miss out on home fixtures, while it would also throw up other issues.
Tottenham’s home match against Leicester might not be moved to the East Midlands, given Leicester Tigers are hosting Newcastle in the Premiership. Meanwhile, Chelsea might not be able to travel to Anfield because Everton are playing West Ham at Goodison Park. Two fixtures on the same day, in the same city is a situation police are keen to avoid.
Source: The Mirror