Scared of a Bit of Snow
Blackpool v Tottenham Hotspur. Postponed.
West Brom v Wolverhampton Wanderers. Postponed.
Chelsea v Manchester United. Postponed.
Fantastic. All three Premier League games for the Sunday 19th December were all called off a day early, on the Saturday, not the Sunday. Just presuming that the weather would only get worse or not really improve in the 24 hours to the build up to the game.
Fair enough, Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road has no undersoil heating, therefore making it difficult to clear the snow and ice from the pitch. It is inevitable with such conditions that a match there would be nigh on impossible. Lets give that an exception to the rule, but surely, a Premier League club must have to get undersoil heating. Avoid these postponements, avoid annoying the travelling fans and create a big back log of fixtures for the team to trawl through. This is the second game Blackpool have had to postpone, more midweek fixtures to go through, and if the weather fails on improving, then they will struggle, with such a small squad, towards the end of the season.
Aside from that though, you can’t blame them for calling it off. West Brom and Chelsea on the other hand? In both cases more than 24 hours before the games kicked off. Yes, the weather down south was pretty bad on Saturday, but according to people who were around the area of Stamford Bridge on the Sunday, there was little snow, the roads were gritted, everything was safe enough to ensure fans could reach the stadium and enjoy a match between two of the best clubs in England.
Oh wait, how could I forget, they already called it off.
Presumptions don’t work, I remember when Liverpool called off their game against Tottenham last season, despite the surrounding areas and the stadium itself being fine, safe, all that. And by some amazing coincidence, it was when Spurs were on a stretch of good form. Hold on, aren’t Manchester United unbeaten in the league so far this season?
There is a good chance that Chelsea just saw the opportunity to see the game called off so that in the hope by the time it was rescheduled, Manchester United would be in freefall, plummeting down the league, an easy three points.
It is a cynical view, an even more cynical one is that the game could be rescheduled for the last week of the season, just in case Manchester United and Chelsea were fighting to become Premier League champions, and it was a winner takes all match. Imagine the ratings Sky could get for that, all the extra sales on their boxes, the revenue it could bring.
But I’m sure Rupert Murdoch wouldn’t do such a thing.
What excuse is their though? Sensible one? Anyone? No, didn’t think so. You can’t call a football match, or for that matter a rugby match too a day early. Give it time to see what the weather will be like. Make sure the groundsmen and staff work their damn hardest so that the pitch is good to play on, that the surrounding areas can be walked on without everyone slipping, that everything is like every other day.
If, by the day of the game, it is just as bad, call it off in the morning. Make sure that the fans don’t have a wasted journey, don’t travel all the way only for a game to be called off one hour before the scheduled kick off time. Allow those who go by official means that if they did have travel with them, can use it all again for when it is rescheduled.
Premier League football came out very bad from this. No Heineken Cup rugby union games were called off, six more games were played in the Championship, the tier below the Premier League. How that can happen is unacceptable. Look at Ipswich Town v Leicester City, it wasn’t pretty. Instead of being a luscious green, the pitch was a clear white, dug out only to mark the markings on the pitch, to see if it was a goal kick, if it was a throw in and so on. I saw lots of comments on it being like ‘proper football’, football can be played in any condition, but the fear of having complaints issued towards it from fans if they slip outside is risking that. So what if it isn’t a full stadium? People can watch from home, enjoy the delights of Jeff Stelling by the fireplace while Chris Kamara screams “Unbelievable Jeff” when your team gives away an inevitable last minute equaliser.
Some situations can not be avoided, some can be easily cleaned up. Premier League football clubs are in reality just a bunch of wimps.