The Daily Telegraph

Grass-roots campaigner­s’ anger at halt to leagues


‘Let those who take training sessions, clubs and leagues decide if they want the time off’

Grass-roots football campaigner­s will press ahead with youth training sessions today amid dismay over amateur leagues being postponed due to Queen Elizabeth II’S death.

The Football Associatio­n, Premier League and English Football League announced a game-wide suspension – which includes youth leagues – after much deliberati­on yesterday.

However, Kenny Saunders, of the Save Grass-roots campaign group, questioned whether the Queen would have supported plans to stop schoolchil­dren playing their matches at weekends. “We believe, and I think the Queen would too, that kids’ exercise is more important than sitting on the Playstatio­ns and Xboxes,” he said.

Saunders said he had received several calls from parents bemused that their children’s matches had been cancelled. He has invited those based around Liverpool to join his weekly coaching sessions at Calderston­es Park. “The suspension is just totally, totally wrong,” Saunders said. “It’s about time the FA gives the people who run grassroots football the choice. Let those who take training sessions, the clubs and leagues decide whether they want the time off.”

At the elite end of the game, the Football Supporters’ Associatio­n and retired players including Peter Crouch have questioned whether football would have been better off pressing ahead.

However, the FA is understood to have supported a blanket postponeme­nt as the late Queen was a patron, her grandson Prince William is president of the FA and football is the national sport.

Saunders said: “Has anyone asked the kids what they wanted? I’m sure 99.9 per cent would have wanted to play on. That’s number one priority. And number two, what would the Queen have wanted?

“I’m sure the Queen would have said, ‘Let’s just go ahead with playing’. We don’t want kids sitting on Xboxes and Playstatio­ns tomorrow because their football match is off.”

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