When Newcastle United could play next, police concern and what happened in 1997 after similar call off

It’s been more than 25 years since Newcastle United were forced to call off a game due to a death in the Royal Family.

Back then the Magpies’ televised game against Liverpool at the start of the 1997/98 season was scheduled to take place the day after Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash in Paris. And TV chiefs, hoping for another game as watchable as the two 4-3s that came before it, pulled the plug as a mark of respect.

This week the tremendously sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II resulted in all Premier League clubs seeing this weekend’s fixtures postponed with the country in a period of mourning. It’s still unknown when play will resume but no definite word has emerged yet whether next weekend’s Premier League fixtures will go ahead with AFC Bournemouth due on Tyneside.

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The possibility of police officers being redeployed en masse to London ahead of the Queen’s funeral has also been highlighted as a reason that a second round of matches could be postponed. That scenario would mean Newcastle don’t kick a ball in the top-flight again until October 1 when they are set to play Fulham at Craven Cottage.

The country mourned the loss of Diana, Princess of Wales and when football resumed Newcastle lost at home to Wimbledon. The tragedy had unfolded just days after Newcastle had qualified for the Champions League group stages for the first time under Kenny Dalglish on a wild night in Croatia.

Having won the first leg 2-1 thanks to two goals from John Beresford it looked like United were getting past Dinamo Zagreb in normal time after a Tino Asprilla penalty put them ahead but late goals from the home side ensured extra time. But Temuri Ketsbaia’s equaliser in the 119th minute made it 2-2 on the night and put Newcastle through.

Yet the euphoria quickly faded after the tragedy with the country in a state of sadness and shock the game was called off on Merseyside meaning Newcastle did not play again until September 13 when Wimbledon came to St James’ Park. The Dons rocked United with a 3-1 win with Warren Barton’s goal not enough to spark a victory.

Just four days later the Magpies recorded one of the most famous results in their history as they beat Barcelona 3-2 at St James’ Park with Asprilla getting a hat-trick. Howe’s modern Magpies must now hit the reset button and whether they resume next weekend or in October, he will be eager to return to winning ways.

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