Council and clubs clash over cancelled matches

The 3G pitch at Brownstown Park. INPT07-251.
The 3G pitch at Brownstown Park. INPT07-251.

Local football clubs have told of their frustration as weekend fixtures were postponed early on Friday morning.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council made the decision to call off fixtures, most controversially on the Brownstown Park 3G, where Portadown FC Youth teams and Rectory Rangers regularly play home fixtures.

“Our understanding is that the games were all called off at 9am this morning,” said Mid-Ulster Football League secretary Paul Suckling.

“Alright, it doesn’t make a massive impact at this stage because we haven’t got a huge build-up of postponed fixtures but Rectory Rangers, for instance, phoned me saying they thought it was crazy because there was no snow on their pitch.

“Calling off matches scheduled for 2.15pm on Saturday at 9am on Friday morning unless the weather is diabolical does not make any sense.
“Matches in Dungannon were also called off but matches at Lord Lurgan and Gordon Playing Fields could yet go ahead and there are no plans for postponements in Banbridge.”

Portadown Youth secretary Noel Cowan echoed Suckling’s sentiments.

“It’s very frustrating from our point of view,” he said. “These pitches were designed to be played on in temperatures as low as -6 degrees celsius. We pay something around £26,000 a year to use the pitch.

“If it was our own 3G pitch, we could make our own decision but there’s nothing we can do.”

However, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council said they were only acting on requests received from a footballing body.

“The Mid-Ulster League have requested that when we are considering postponements or cancellations that we do so the day before so that clubs can make arrangements and cancel refereees and buses,” said a statement.

“There is a yellow weather warning issued for the County Armagh area this evening and tomorrow morning and 3G pitches are not suited to be played on in temperatures under three degrees.

“We have arranged for a pitch inspection at Hanover at 10.30am so the match may go ahead in the afternoon.”