Harry Redknapp said yesterday that he wants Tottenham Hotspur's Premier League opener against Everton on Saturday to go ahead, as the league makes its decision today as to whether police resources containing the rioting across the country can cover matches as well.
The Premier League has set a deadline of tonight to make a call on whether games can go ahead, with its member clubs taking their leads from their respective police forces. Redknapp said that he wanted Spurs to play their 3pm kick-off against Everton at White Hart Lane, less than a mile away from where the riots began on Sunday night and the scenes of some of the worst damage in London.
Redknapp told The Independent: "Hopefully it will be OK. It is different if all the games are off but there is nothing worse than being left behind at the start of the season. We don't want a situation where everyone else has started and we are sat there with no points. A lot depends on what happens [overnight]. Then we have to make a decision. If it all quietens down, hopefully things can get back to normal.
"It is very difficult. The police are being used all over the place at the moment. It just depends on how it goes from here. [Last night] is the crucial one. Hopefully it will all settle down. Watching the pictures, some of it has been unbelievable."
Tottenham's official position is that the game is on but in its last statement on Tuesday evening, the Premier League inferred that the three games being played in London were most at risk of postponement. The key problem is police resources, with 16,000 officers on London streets, all leave cancelled and many co-opted in from other forces.
Redknapp said that he wanted the club to play a key role in the rebuilding of confidence in Tottenham's community. "We need to keep getting involved in the area, even more so now. As a football club we need to spend time with local kids in youth clubs and community areas. I'm keen on us helping to give them a future. We do work very hard in the community. Let's get the players out there helping."
Some forces have advised clubs that afternoon kick-offs are less likely to suffer from postponement because disturbances over the last five days have taken place at night. The first night match of the season is Manchester City's home game against Swansea on Monday.
There was a co-ordinated call for calm in Liverpool by the city's two clubs yesterday. Kenny Dalglish said: "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."
The Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard urged people involved in disturbances to "think again". He said: "The community doesn't want you behaving like this. We're proud of how Liverpool has been transformed and we shouldn't let the actions of a few have such an impact."
David Moyes, the Everton manager, called upon those involved not to imperil the start of the season. He said: "There can be no justification for the shocking display of behaviour that has been witnessed. The mindless actions by small groups of individuals cannot be condoned..."
The riots and their potential threat to the start of the season are likely to dominate the Premier League's launch today of this season's "Get on with the game" campaign – the league's version of the FA's "Respect" initiative.Reuse content