Football could have used as way of coming together after Queen’s death - that opportunity has been wasted

Bristol Rovers and Bristol City games have been called off as a period of mourning begins following the death of Queen Elizabeth II - but was it the right thing to do?

Even many of those who would prefer that the monarchy didn’t exist have shown over the past 24 hours a layer of respect for someone who has been a constant presence in most of our lives.

However, while it’s obvious that some things were going to be postponed in the wake of the devastating news, the decision to cancel all football this weekend is needlessly excessive.

There’s a fair chance it was at the heart of your plans ... just like most weekends.

Maybe you were getting up on Saturday or Sunday morning to take your kids to play in what, for many, would be their first match of the new season, knowing that there’ll be no muddy pitch to put paid to this one.

Perhaps that early start was to get a train or supporters’ coach to an away game. Or getting ready to meet up with mates to head to the pub before going onto the stadium to watch your team.

You could be going to work at a match, earning much-needed cash when money is tight. Or opening up your shop, knowing that the matchday footfall could see you through the week in trying times and keep the shutters open a little while longer.

The LED board shows a photo Queen Elizabeth II as players observe a minutes silence after it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away today prior to the UEFA Europa Conference League group B match between West Ham United and FCSB at London Stadium

You might be playing yourself, a highlight of your week after grafting for the previous five or six days – a chance to take part in some exercise and camaraderie.

Or, maybe you just wanted to spend the day in front of the TV or the radio and take in the sporting events across the country.

Instead, we’re all expected to just wallow in sadness. You’ll still have to get up and go to work next week and carry on as normal but this weekend your leisure time has been taken away. Doing what you love is being suspended, on the assumption that football’s authorities believe it would be disrespectful to enjoy yourself.

Surely, the biggest tribute huge swathes of the country could muster is to collectively gather and pay their respects at a football ground. Honour the Queen in whichever way clubs and their fans see fit.

Sing the national anthem if you want to. Hold a minute’s silence or a period of applause in her memory.

That opportunity has been taken away and now football’s fans and players and staff are expected to just be miserable for a few days.

There’s no respect in forced mourning.

What harm would it have done for kids to go out and play on Saturday or Sunday?

What’s to be gained from preventing non-league footballers going out to do something they love?

Who’s going to fill the pockets of a steward or kiosk worker who’s been denied a day’s wage?

Who will pay for the train and hotel tickets that may have been booked for those travelling to games?

If you asked the new King Charles III or Prince William what they think should be done about football matches, including young people’s, I’d imagine they’d tell you to wise up and that they’ve enough to be worrying about.

And indeed there is enough going on to be worried about. The country isn’t exactly in a great state at the minute and taking away the joys that people hold – even for just a short time – isn’t going to help matters.

Football could have been used as a way of truly coming together. That opportunity has been wasted by a decision borne out of PR and the fear of not ‘doing the right thing.’