London riots

Ecclestone plea for go ahead

August 10, 2011

QPR owner Bernie Ecclestone hopes the Premier League can give this weekend's opening round of fixtures the go-ahead - for the sake of England's worldwide reputation.

Riot police tackle a mob after a number of cars are set alight in London
GettyImagesRiot police tackle a mob after a number of cars are set alight in London

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Premier League and Football League chiefs are due to provide an update on whether games can be played, following rioting which began in London on Saturday and has since spread to other major cities, including Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

England's friendly against Holland, plus several Carling Cup matches, were scratched from the midweek fixture schedule on police advice. However Ecclestone believes it would be the wrong decision to cancel this weekend's fixtures.

Ecclestone told BBC Sport: "It gives a terrible message to the rest of the world. The Premier League is watched all over the world and wherever I travel and turn on [the TV] I see Manchester United playing someone.

"It is important and it is watched worldwide so it gives a very bad message [about] England and we're about to have the Olympic Games so it is not a good message to give.''

QPR versus Bolton is one of three London-based top-flight fixtures scheduled to take place this weekend. Fulham are due to host Aston Villa and Everton travel to Tottenham, where trouble first erupted on Saturday after a peaceful protest against the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan turned violent.

Although rioting has abated in the capital, it could return, and Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp vowed to support postponements if they become necessary.

Redknapp told The Sun: "These riots are threatening our weekend football programme and I totally understand why they postponed last night's England-Holland international match at Wembley.

"If Tottenham's Premier League match against Everton is to be played on Saturday - along with all the other fixtures - then we cannot afford to have any more problems.

"Equally, if the riots continue, then I would completely respect the decision of the police and other authorities to call the games off.''

Football League chairman Greg Clarke has indicated matches will be postponed this weekend if officers are needed elsewhere.

"The police have to make these calls,'' Clarke told Sky Sports News. "If they feel they have more important things to do than send officers to football grounds, we will support that decision.''

Trouble has also reached Merseyside, and Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish last night appealed for calm.

Dalglish said on Liverpool's club website: "The city has made incredible progress over the past few years and no-one wants to see our restored reputation damaged by what we have witnessed over the last couple of days.

"For everyone's sake let's stop this now and pull together for the benefit of the whole community.''

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