THE Monday Kick-off’s initial reaction to football’s decision to postpone matches as a mark of respect to the Queen was one of predictable apathy. Then, having thought about it a little longer, it became less understandable.

In 1952 – following the death of King George – matches went ahead down south and there was public outcry, especially when other sports, such as rugby union and cricket, halted as a mark of respect.

Perhaps the authorities in Scotland and England found themselves in a no-win situation this time around: play and be damned, don’t play and, well, we’ve seen the response.

Then another thought occurred: the Queen might have been the patron of the SFA but she was also invested in a similar way in many other sports and there were some which she also genuinely loved, such as horse racing and polo, which chose not to cancel matches or events unilaterally over the weekend.

Furthermore, she had barely any interest in the game. Twenty years elapsed between the World Cup final of 1966 at Wembley and the next time she set foot in a stadium for the opening of the new Kop at Hillsborough and a further 10 passed before she was back at Wembley for the Euro 96 final.

The matches that were postponed on Friday to mark her passing should have been enough of an act in themselves, followed by a minute’s applause (if there was a fear they would be hijacked by protests) before matches on the Saturday such as there were at youth games in Scotland at the weekend.

The government directives even gave football’s authorities the perfect “out” by saying it was up to individual bodies to decide how best to mark her death.

Some have suggested that not everyone would have observed a minute’s silence – there were instances of booing at Zurich v Arsenal, and at Hearts and Shamrock Rovers during their Europa League ties – and it is therefore logical to conclude that perhaps the game’s governing bodies in Scotland and England feared that fan reaction might well have cast a negative light on the game.

Football, for whatever reason, seems to be treated in isolation when its grand gestures tend to overlap with society’s wider issues but that is an argument for another day.

Certainly, a vocal reaction by supporters would have been out of keeping with the performative nature of “national grief” and the idea that everyone is mourning the loss of the Queen.

Will someone think of the fans?

And so to the moving of tomorrow’s scheduled Champions League tie between Rangers and Napoli to Wednesday.

There will be plenty of people who will argue that it was the right thing to do because of the strain on police resources – but without being fully apprised of the facts, it’s impossible to comment on the rights and wrongs of that decision.

There have already been murmurings of discontent about what it means for supporters – and rightly so. When fixtures are altered at short notice it is without fail the fans who pay the highest price, both literally and figuratively.

The request for Napoli fans to stay away means Italian supporters who have bought flights and hotel rooms (so too travelling Rangers fans) will be out of pocket as will those Rangers supporters who have made similar purchases for next month’s return leg and find they are no longer permitted to attend that fixture in Naples.

For supporters often chucking out thousands a season to make these journeys, every pound is a prisoner.

A nightmare lurking in the Shved

We might still be in a 10-day period of national mourning but that won’t stop matches going ahead in the Champions League and Europa Conference League this midweek – which would only seem to highlight the incongruity of cancelling domestic matches this weekend.

Barring a last-minute intervention by Uefa, Celtic will take on Shakhtar Donetsk in Poland where they will encounter a familiar face in the form of Maryan Shved, pictured.

The case of the Ukraine attacker’s time at Celtic is a curious one. His fate at Parkhead felt sealed almost from the minute he arrived in 2019 with then Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers given the following lukewarm assessment: “I can’t say I know a great deal about him but what I have seen he is a talent and something that will probably benefit the club in the future. We’ve got about a million wingers and don’t need another one . . .”

True to his word, Rodgers used Shved sparingly, the winger playing just three games for the club while scoring one goal. He was transferred to Mechelen permanently two years later having spent the 20/21 season on loan at the Belgian club, and joined Shakhtar this summer.

A two-goal haul on his Champions League debut against

RB Leipzig, which brought his tally to three in three games since signing, suggests he is in the type of form that might have Celtic fans cursing Rodgers after the final whistle on Wednesday night.

Pegula has no time to drown her sorrows

I think we could all feel a degree of empathy for Jessica Pegula for her beer-swigging moment following her defeat by Iga Swiatek during last week’s quarter-finals at the US Open.

Speaking to press and television after losing to the eventual winner of the women’s event, the American took several slugs of a can of Heineken while pondering life and a reporter’s questions in the Flushing Meadows media centre.

But there was more to her choice of beverage than a cure to a bout of serious soul-searching.

“I’m trying to pee for doping,” said Pegula when asked about the beer.

Poulter’s hypocritical response

Few of the LIV Series defectors are more permanently annoying than Ian Poulter.

“Poults” strikes the Monday Kick-off as the kind of guy you meet on day one of a holiday and then spend the rest of the fortnight making a conscious effort to avoid.

His latest shenanigans at the BMW International – an event he turned up at despite earning $1.5 million from the LIV Tour already and thus denying other less fortunate players the opportunity to earn a few quid – are a case in point.

Defying a PGA request not to wear livery promoting the LIV Tour, Poulter rocked up in a shirt sponsored by his LIV team Majesticks, then became involved in a terse exchange with Billy Horschel prior to teeing off at Wentworth.

When called out on the first point on social media, he turned all innocent, proclaiming that at a time when the Queen had died his interlocutor should show more respect, spectacularly failing to recognise the hypocrisy in his own point-scoring tweet.


The number of wickets which fell in just 71 overs as England and South Africa toiled with the bat in the third Test at The Oval across the weekend