Saracens maintain plan to hold minute's silence for Margaret Thatcher despite anger among own fans

Debate over whether to pay respects to form Prime Minister has divided opinion

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The Independent Online

Despite opposition from their own fans, Saracens have said they will go ahead with a minute's silence in honour of Baroness Thatcher this weekend.

Since the death of the former Prime Minister, a debate has raged over whether sporting events should pay their respects during this weekend's fixtures.

While silences have been ruled out across the board in football, both Saracens and fellow Aviva Premiership side Exeter have announced they will mark Thatcher's death.

They are the only top-level sports clubs in Britain who plan to mark the death of the former Prime Minister, who passed away on Monday.

Saracens announced the news on their website yesterday but comments since posted on that page show some supporters are furious with one branding the tribute "disgraceful," report The Evening Standard.

Another, TerryH, wrote: "Sarries worst decision ever. We should not be respecting the memory of any politician, let alone such a divisive one."

While a fan, under the name of  cazzie569, wrote:  "NO NO NO NO, WHY? WHY ?WHY? I shall be attending the match on Sunday but will be joining the majority in the bar for this ridiculous minute. Politics and sport DO NOT mix and this is not a good idea. Sarries get a grip and consult the fans 1st on such a controversial subject!!!!!!"

However, Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths insisted "absolutely" the tribute would take place and was confident the bulk of the crowd at the Allianz Park would take part.

"I think, as anyone knows, messageboards on websites are not necessarily representative of the general view," he said. "I am confident that the overwhelming majority of Saracens supporters will recognise the minute's silence.

"We are not going to be discussing the Falklands War or the Poll Tax and we're certainly not going to be asking people to vote in a particular way in the next election. What we are doing is we are just showing respect for the passing of Britain's longest serving Prime Minister for 150 years."

The issue of whether sport should mark Thatcher's death has divided opinion. Reading chairman John Madejski and Wigan owner Dave Whelan both voiced their support for a minute's silence but the Premier League, the Football League and the Football Association have not asked clubs to pay their respects.

The Premier League's stance is that a minute's silence has never been held for politicians.

The Hillsborough Family Support Group said that holding a minute's silence would be "a disgrace and insult  to all fans". The group were formed by families who lost loved ones in the stadium disaster in 1989.

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