Following the postponement at 5.00pm of the home game versus Salisbury City, we would like to explain the circumstances regarding match postponements.
First of all, like everyone involved with the Club, we are as disappointed as anyone, when it comes to the postponement of a game. We must also confirm that neither Club has any say in a decision as to whether or not a game is played. This decision is solely that of the appointed match official or an equally qualified official.
Our communication regarding this fixture started on Monday morning, when there was concern as to the condition of the pitch, due to the amount of rainfall. We spoke to the secretary of Salisbury City at about 10.00am, who informed us that their team had already left to come north. This is unusual, but they were seeking training facilities due to the extreme rainfall they have had in the south. It was confirmed that if the rainfall was to continue, that we may require an early inspection. This was slightly less critical, in view of the fact Salisbury were already north and not doing the full journey. We consulted with the Football Conference for guidance as to the best course of action for an inspection. Whilst Salisbury’s journey was significantly reduced due to their own training initiative, we felt an inspection as reasonably early as possible on the day of the match was appropriate. It was agreed with the match official, to bring in a local referee of the required qualification (Conference Premier or above) to perform a formal pitch inspection.
This was done at 11.00am this Tuesday morning. The pitch had improved from the night before and at the time of the inspection, the sun was shining, reasonable amounts of blue sky were evident and there was a good drying wind. The referee deemed the pitch playable at the time of his inspection. On that basis, the two clubs go through the normal processes to stage the game. That requires authorising food, programmes, stewards, healthcare staff, turnstile operators, catering staff, all the players, fans and sponsors etc. and confirming the game is given the go ahead.
During Tuesday afternoon there was additional rainfall and purely as a precaution, we requested the match referee to get here as soon as they were able. Following a detailed inspection of the pitch, including the bounce of a ball in various areas, the official proceeded to cancel the game at 5.00pm. This was the earliest time such a decision could be made. We stress, neither club has any say in the decision for a game to go ahead, it is the decision of the individual at a given time, to make the final decision. Whether a Club agrees or disagrees at any point, we have to abide by the decision.
As the home club, we are saddled with a lot of extra cost due to a postponement, we have to pay half the officials match day costs, we have to pay the additional referee who took part in the inspection, we have to pay for food, programmes and certain staff, with no revenue. It is the first game we have lost all season and in fact, when those around us were having games postponed, we managed to stage the Gateshead game on New Year’s Day, despite heavy rain in the run-up to kick-off. We have played the highest number of games in the league, with the exception of Alfreton, who have played one more game.
We can only apologise for the disappointment and inconvenience to all, due to the cancellation of this fixture. Everything that was required to be done has been done. There are so many fans, sponsors and staff affected by this, not least those fans travelling from Salisbury. We have to abide by a series of rules/protocols to run games and ensure that they are given every chance to be played. On this occasion it was not possible, we have to cope with that disappointment and abide by the decisions taken by the officials, at any given time.
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