Date:Monday February 18 2008
The lines have been well and truly drawn in the sand regarding the postponed League One fixture between Doncaster Rovers and Leeds United. Perhaps that should be lines in a 1/3 frozen pitch?
United Chief Executive Shaun Harvey told the official website, Leedsunited.com of his surprise that the game was not able to go ahead. Referee Andy Marriner called the game off just after 9am ahead of the brought forward kick off time of 12.
'I was surprised,' said Shaun. 'The first we knew there was potentially even a problem with the game not taking place was when it was called off which is very disappointing.
'The reality is that if the game was in doubt we should have been made aware there was a problem so we could keep everyone informed.
'The first message we received was it was simply off. They called the referee in and he deemed it not playable - and having seen it, it wasn't.'
It now appears that the groundsmen at Donny Rovers, only decided to cover the pitch for the section that wouldn’t get the early morning sun, a bizarre move given the extremely cold temperatures that have swept across the United Kingdom in the last week or so. It must have been clear to at least someone at the club that the whole pitch would still be struggling to thaw out come time for the match.
'Our main gripe is that there was an option to fully cover the pitch and they chose not to do that, and for that reason and that reason alone it was off,' added Harvey.
'If the game had been a 3pm kick-off the chances are it would have gone ahead, but it wasn't and the ref was left with no choice in view of what he saw.
'We apologise to Leeds fans who were kept in the dark but so were we on this occasion.'
'I think in hindsight they would do it differently again, but we will make our observations to the Football League and let them deal with it.'
Meanwhile, the Doncaster Rovers camp has naturally moved to defend the decisions made on Saturday. Gavin Baldwin, Chief Executive of the Stadium Management Company (who operate the Keepmoat, rather than the club) has explained the situation, without pointing out that some dozy twit had forgotten to cover the whole pitch:
'The match referee has made a decision that the pitch at the Keepmoat Stadium is unplayable due to the overnight frost.
'As a result the game has been postponed. Unfortunately this is a decision that is out of our hands and we have to adhere to.
'Our sincere apologies go out to all fans who have made the journey to the Keepmoat Stadium for this much anticipated match. We are working closely with the Football League to rearrange a date in the very near future and will keep all fans up to date with progress.
'We are willing to make the stadium available at extremely short notice to accommodate any new date.'
That’s nice of them!
Finally, CEO for Doncaster Rovers David Morris has had his say, and was a bit more upfront about the disappointment, already displayed by Harvey and Leeds United. Speaking to the official Doncaster Rovers website, Morris said:
'I spoke to the groundsman yesterday and we were aware that this frost was coming. I think that the main factor was that the game had to kick off at 12. If we had been kicking off at 3 o'clock then there wouldn't have been a problem. The Police insisted on bringing that game forward for whatever reason they had.
'The referee came along and had a look at the frost-covered pitch and - Shaun is right - there was only some of the pitch covered - but even with the covers it would have still been frozen. The reason we did take the option of covering that part was because we were certain that the sun would never get a chance to shine on it - but in the end it wouldn't have made any difference.'
It is likely now that Leeds, as mentioned by Harvey may now look to the Football League to see what they can do about what has been an utter farce. With a separate operating company sorting out stadium affairs, you would have hoped that everyone could have worked together to ensure that the game had gone ahead.
Or perhaps it’s the Police’s fault for moving the game in the first place? You decide!
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Date:Monday February 18 2008
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