Sports fixtures to be moved to avoid clashing with Prince Philip’s funeral


Sporting bodies are in discussions regarding plans for next Saturday’s fixtures after confirmation that Prince Philip’s funeral will take place at Windsor Castle that afternoon.

A national minute’s silence will be observed as the ceremonial royal funeral begins at 3pm. The funeral will take place on a busy sporting weekend with the FA Cup semi-finals, a full Football League programme, the Women’s Six Nations and the opening day of the World Snooker Championship among the events on the calendar.

The Football League has announced that matches scheduled to begin at 3pm will be rearranged. An EFL spokesperson said: “As a mark of respect, EFL matches scheduled for 3pm on Saturday 17 April will be moved to avoid a clash with the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The EFL will now work with its clubs to determine at what time the matches will be played, giving consideration to the timing of the service. An announcement will follow in due course.”

The Football Association, Premier League and the England and Wales Cricket Board are all in talks with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport regarding arrangements while the Women’s Six Nations is awaiting guidance, it is understood. In the Premier League, Wolves are due to host Sheffield United at 3pm, following the lunchtime fixture between Newcastle and West Ham.

The Chelsea v Manchester City FA Cup semi-final is due to kick off at 5.30pm at Wembley. The government’s published advice states: “The decision as to whether sporting fixtures continue to go ahead is at the discretion of organisers. Organisers may wish to consider using black armbands and observing a silence before matches are played.”

Premiership Rugby fixtures will be rearranged to avoid a clash, a decision which will affect the 2pm kick-off between Newcastle and Bristol and 3pm fixture involving Harlequins and Worcester. A Premiership Rugby spokesperson said: “As a mark of respect for HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Premiership Rugby can confirm that all Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches scheduled to be played between 3pm and 4pm on Saturday 17 April will be moved to avoid a clash with his funeral service. We have already started discussing the logistical details with our clubs and broadcasters and will make an announcement as soon as possible.”

In Scotland, Rangers are due to host Celtic at 4pm, one of six fourth-round ties scheduled in the Scottish Cup. A Scottish Football Association statement read: “In light of confirmation that the funeral of HRH Prince Philip will take place next Saturday at 3pm, we have entered dialogue with the relevant stakeholders with regard to Scottish Cup fourth round fixtures scheduled on that day. We will update participating clubs, supporters and partners in due course.”

The British Horseracing Authority will also hold discussions regarding its own plans. The biggest race next weekend is the Scottish Grand National at Ayr, which is due off at 3.35pm. On Saturday, tributes were paid at sporting grounds up and down the country following Buckingham Palace’s announcement a day earlier that the Duke had died at the age of 99.

Sportsmen and women observed a two-minute silence before fixtures, and wore black armbands. The Football Association announced flags at Wembley and St George’s Park will fly at half-mast. EFL chair Rick Parry said of the Duke: “As a patron of over 800 organisations, his high regard for the encouragement of sport and welfare of young people was unequivocal, and his loss will undoubtedly be felt not only here in the UK but across the world.”