Scottish football and UK sport shuts down as mark of respect for the Queen
Scottish football and sport in general is shutting down this weekend as a mark of respect following the passing of the Queen at the age of 96.
The Scottish FA and SPFL confirmed that all professional matches will be postponed. That includes matches in the four SPFL divisions, the Lowland and Highland League and SWPL1 and 2 as well as Women’s Scottish Cup fixtures.
South Challenge Cup fixtures have also been called off by the East of Scotland FA and the Scottish Amateur FA has suspended all its matches this weekend.
All grassroots football in England and Northern Ireland has been called off as well as the professional game, but children’s and youth football in Scotland can go ahead with teams encouraged by the Scottish Youth FA and Scottish Women’s Football to celebrate the Queen’s life with a minute’s applause.
While that decision to buck the trend has been welcomed in many quarters, heavy rain in the Capital means many games have been called off in any case.
The Hibs v Hearts CAS Elite under-18 League game scheduled for tonight at HTC has also been postponed.
Hibs were scheduled to face Dundee United at Tannadice in the cinch Premiership on Saturday, with Hearts due to host St Mirren on Sunday. But with a period of national mourning across the United Kingdom now underway, a full shutdown has been confirmed.
Explaining the decision to cancel professional football in Scotland, Scottish FA president Rod Petrie explained: “We spoke with our counterparts across the UK and in discussions with our colleagues across the professional game in Scotland it was agreed that this was the appropriate step to take following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“We will work with our clubs and members in the meantime to ensure appropriate steps are taken throughout the period of mourning.”
Discussions are thought to be taking place with UEFA over next week's European games involving Scottish clubs. Celtic and Hearts are due to travel to away matches in Poland and Latvia respectively, with reports suggesting that these fixtures will still go ahead. But European games due to take place in the UK could still be postponed, including Rangers' Champions League clash with Napoli scheduled for Tuesday.
The Scottish Premiership fixtures scheduled for next weekend, September 17 and 18, include Hibs v Aberdeen on Saturday and Motherwell v Hearts on Sunday. The Scottish Cup first round is also scheduled for next weekend.
This weekend's Premier League, English Football League and Women’s Super League fixtures have also been called off. All football in Northern Ireland scheduled for this weekend will not take place.
Scottish Rugby has suspended all “competitive” domestic games this weekend. That includes Scotland women’s Test match against Spain at DAM Health Stadium in the Capital on Sunday. But Edinburgh Rugby’s away match against Treviso in Italy is going ahead.
Elsewhere, the second day of golf’s PGA Championship at Wentworth is not taking place but will resume on Saturday and there will be no play in cricket’s Test match between England and South Africa. Cycling's Tour of Britain has cancelled its final three stages in Gloucestershire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.
The British Horseracing Authority has announced that racing will resume on Sunday, but Musselburgh racecourse has abandoned fixtures scheduled for Saturday and Sunday as a mark of respect as the Queen’s body lies in rest in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.
Bill Farnsworth, general manager of Musselburgh Racecourse, explained: “While protocols permit racing to resume on Sunday it would be inappropriate for us to stage our meeting as the Queen’s body rests in nearby St Giles’ Cathedral and as a mark of respect the decision was taken to abandon.”
The plan for what happens next when the Queen dies, called ‘Operation Unicorn’ when she passes in Scotland, is set out for nine days following the monarch’s death and includes the option to postpone sports fixtures.
Sports event organisers were told this morning that they were under no obligation to do so. Official guidance does, however, does recommend that sports bodies consider cancelling events on the day of the state funeral, likely to be a week on Monday.
News of the Queen's passing broke during the half-time interval of Hearts' Europa Conference League match against Istanbul Basaksehir at Tynecastle, with the players wearing black armbands and resuming to a minute's silence, which was interrupted by a minority of fans and had to be cut short.
The Queen was a Patron of the Scottish FA, and president Rod Petrie joined the tributes.
“On behalf of the Scottish football family, I send my condolences to the Royal Family following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” said Petrie the former Hibs chairman.
“We will join the nation in a period of mourning and reflect on the indomitable spirit that characterised Her Majesty’s long reign and the enduring legacy she leaves behind."
“Her Majesty’s love and affinity for Scotland is well-known and long-established and we at the Scottish FA are deeply saddened by the passing of our Patron.”Murdoch MacLennan, chairman of the SPFL, said: "The death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II marks the end of a glorious, momentous reign.
“Our thoughts, prayers and sincere condolences go out to the Royal Family as we give thanks for the selfless contribution of our country’s longest-serving monarch.”
Hibs, Hearts and other football and sports clubs across Edinburgh and the Lothians have being paying tribute to the Queen on social media.