Tottenham’s opening match of the Premier League season against Everton today was postponed following disorder in the London neighborhood last Saturday that sparked a wave of rioting and looting across England.
The decision to call off the Tottenham game was taken on Thursday by the league after being discussed at a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, known as COBRA.
But while there are still safety concerns in the area around Tottenham’s White Hart Lane stadium, the remaining nine topflight matches this weekend are set to go ahead, including two others in London.
“Everything is subject to change if there is a major incident in any of the cities tonight or [last] night,” Premier League chief executive Scudamore cautioned on Thursday at an event launching the new season.
The violence first broke out late Saturday in the low-income district of Tottenham in north London after a protest against the fatal police shooting of man who was gunned down in disputed circumstances on Thursday.
“The police have done a fantastic job, but it’s been a crime scene all week and the council have not had enough time to do what they need,” Scudamore said.
Tottenham said the decision to postpone the match was taken because of “safety concerns relating to the infrastructure of the High Road and access to the stadium caused by last Saturday’s riots.
“We apologize for any inconvenience caused to supporters due to matters outside of the control of the club,” Spurs said.
The violence morphed into general lawlessness in London and several other cities over the following three nights, with police struggling to regain control.
“It is an unacceptable thing to have happened in a civilized society,” Scudamore said.
Tottenham captain Michael Dawson expressed his disappointment at his delayed start to the season, having already seen England’s friendly against the Netherlands on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium called off.
“We’ve worked for six weeks trying to get fit and now the first week’s not going to be happening for us,” the defender said. “But safety is the main thing, and the police wouldn’t have called it off lightly.”
OTHER GAMES ON
The other Premier League matches on the opening weekend in London are on today, with Fulham hosting Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers facing Bolton.
The league confirmed those and the other seven matches in the rest of the country would go ahead after a meeting following the launch event on Thursday morning.
“The Premier League has worked closely with the authorities and London-based clubs throughout the recent civil unrest to ensure matches are staged in accordance with supporter safety,” the league said in a statement.
“Acting on current information from the authorities there is no reason to believe that matches outside of London will be affected at this time,” the statement added.
The Football League, which runs the three divisions below the topflight, also confirmed its matches in London will be played this weekend.
UEFA also said on Thursday that it is working on security plans for Arsenal’s Champions League match against Udinese on Tuesday at Emirates Stadium, which is 6km from Tottenham.
“We’re monitoring the situation very closely,” UEFA spokesman Rob Faulkner said. “[UEFA is] liaising with Arsenal, The Football Association and London police authorities with regards to the match being played as scheduled.”