Here we are on a Saturday afternoon in September outside the international window and there's no football in the UK to track thanks to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Or as some football fans think, because of the fans of Celtic and Liverpool.
While rugby, cricket and ice hockey are played today in Britain, football grounds of all sizes are empty and silent. The decision by the Premier League and the EFL was criticised yesterday, and feels like an even worse idea today.
An inevitable blame game has started and it's interesting to see the supporters of Celtic and Liverpool - two clubs with deep Irish roots - taking the blame for football being called off this weekend in the UK.
Matt Hughes in the Daily Mail among others has confirmed in the last 24 hours that football wasn't cancelled in Britain this weekend only because a lack of security, but because of a fear of embarrassment. Hughes wrote:
Concern that tributes to the Queen may not have been universally respected — and the potential for global embarrassment in the event of any dissent from fans — was a factor in the decision to call off all football in the United Kingdom this weekend.
Fans on social media have read between the lines and assumed that the powers that be in English football are primarily concerned with Liverpool and Celtic fans acting up.
Surely the football authorities could have just postponed the disrespectful Liverpool and Celtic games and let every one know this sort of crap will not be tolerated.
— Gary Raymond (@GaryRay25447682) September 10, 2022
Stop tryna convince yourselves all of football would have paid tribute just because you don’t have the balls to say Liverpool and Celtic would have fucked it up for everyone x
— Corrinne 💙 (@CorrinneStanley) September 10, 2022
Liverpool and Celtic fans ruined it for every other Football club to show there respect to our beautiful Queen https://t.co/dHdIk1Mctf
— Wolves wendy 🐺 🇬🇧 (@woodcrosswendy) September 10, 2022
So basically, Liverpool and Celtic got the whole weekend cancelled because they can’t be respectful for a minute. Sound https://t.co/czwV7m17bY
— Hugo (@HugoTHFC) September 10, 2022
Liverpool and Celtic. pic.twitter.com/8DJw92K4nR
— Cassano (@TakingBackUltra) September 10, 2022
Interestingly, in his piece, Hughes cites the chants from Shamrock Rovers fans on Thursday night in Tallaght (though not those at the Hearts game in Edinburgh during the failed minute's silence)
It is true that neither club has indulged in some of the OTT performative grieving of some of their fellow clubs.
Liverpool's tweet of condolence about the queen's death cannot be replied to.
Celtic remain one of the few clubs in the UK not to blacken their Twitter avatar in the wake of Queen Elizabeth's passing.
Neither have released a statement about her passing (which is their right).
Liverpool and Celtic are not required to issue statements about The Queen's passing and if you disagree then you aren't in favour of free speech.
— Concerned Citizen (@shinyandnew70) September 10, 2022
However, to see English football fans pile on Liverpool and Celtic supporters for hypothetical disrespect is pretty rich. One recalls the time Chelsea fans ruined the minute's silence held in solidarity with the people of Ukraine after it was invaded by Russia, or the time Chelsea fans ruined the minute's silence for those who died at Hillsbrough, or the time Man City fans ruined a minute's silence for thosee who died at Hillsbrough.
The FA is probably right to expect that a minute's silence for the Queen would not be universally respected.
But the assumption by many that it's clubs with Irish links that would embarrass the British nation is foolish. Recent history tells us many fan bases in England struggle with mature observance of solemn moments. There's no reason to think it would be any different this weekend.