16 September 2022

Emma Hayes adamant it was right football was postponed after Queen’s death

16 September 2022

When it comes to matters of mourning, Chelsea boss Emma Hayes believes footballers and fans are one and the same.

The Blues were set to open their Women’s Super League season last week with a marquee match against West Ham at Stamford Bridge, but, like the rest of football, saw it postponed following the death of the Queen.

Cricket and rugby played on, but Hayes was adamant her sport had made the right call.

Hayes received her OBE from the now-Prince of Wales earlier this year (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

“I think the response is the same for every human being, player or not,” she said. “Our country has lost unbelievable service from a person who has given absolutely everything to her country during her reign.

“For most of us, particularly that have lived within that, we have experienced no other monarch. The conversations that take place in dressing rooms I think are the same conversations that take place in your workplace, which is nothing but the respect and the humble gratitude for someone who has done so much for this country.”

Chelsea will instead start their quest for a fourth straight WSL title away at newly-promoted Liverpool on Sunday, with the postponed West Ham match scheduled for Wednesday, September 28 at Hayes’ side’s regular Kingsmeadow home.

Plans are still underway to host a to-be-determined match at Stamford Bridge this year, with a club statement reading: “We will be updating fans on the next Chelsea Women match to be played at Stamford Bridge in the coming days.”

Chelsea had not released official sales figures for the postponed contest, but WSL rivals Arsenal, who will contest the de-facto league opener on Friday night, have said 45,000 tickets are now sold for their north London derby against Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium next weekend.

Some have suggested November’s World Cup window as a time that could potentially draw in domestic fans hungry for live football at Stamford Bridge, with the WSL playing three rounds during the Premier League break.

Hayes had been active on social media promoting the postponed contest, tweeting it was the “legacy” of the momentum created from England’s Euro 2022 victory.

Still, she insisted the decision was correct and is confident that, when broadcasters change from black back to a less sombre palette, fans will flock to the box office.

“To be honest with you I don’t get emotional about it one way or the other,” she said. “For the right reasons the game didn’t happen and I don’t think it would be the last time that we will sell out Stamford Bridge.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m more than happy to kick off away to Liverpool because I support the rationale for why the games didn’t take place last weekend.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox