When this was unveiled a little over a year ago we were told that postponements due to frost were a thing of the past. Our understanding is that the ‘Match Saver' can be used in conjunction with the undersoil heating but it is suspected that it was not in use leading up to the game, why not?
So, it's New Years Eve and the undersoil heating has been raging for 2 days. What??? With freezing temperatures for over a week and snow falling on Friday night one wonders why this was not switched on earlier but still there should be no problems with the Bradford game the following day.
Who says so? Burnley Football Club of course. A stream of callers on December 31st were told that the match was in no danger due to the undersoil heating. Although the club website was strangely silent on the subject given the interest in it Bradford City had the foresight to contact Turf Moor to inform its fans that ‘Burnley Football Club have confirmed that they do not anticipate any problems with Tuesday's game at Turf Moor. Their undersoil heating has been on and the roads leading to the stadium have been cleared of snow and ice.' No mention of a pitch inspection then.
It must have been around this time that someone in Turf Moor was cancelling the pie order for the game. That's right, we have been reliably informed that the catering requirements for the New Years Day game were cancelled the previous day. If that is true it sounds very much like someone knew that there was no chance of the game going ahead, so why were supporters, particularly those travelling from London and further not informed?
Make no mistake, despite the cold weather this match should not have been in doubt due to the investments the club have seen fit to make on our behalf so on to New Years Day.
The first sign that things were not quite right was the absence of the Turf Moor flag. It is always flown on match days but was conspicuous only by its absence on Tuesday morning. Was this another sign that someone inside Turf Moor knew full well that the game was not going ahead?
Enter match referee Tony Bates for that 10:15am pitch inspection. What pitch inspection I thought that the match was in no danger? Ice on the pitch? No option but to call the game off? What on earth is going on?
Callers to the club were told that the postponement was ‘because it's been cold' though rather strangely Bradford City were also told that ‘roads surrounding the stadium have also given cause for concern' and they too expressed surprise that they had not been informed of any planned pitch inspection.
So maybe as many as 20,000 disappointed fans and what do Burnley Football Club do? Issue a 119 word statement on the official site and shut up shop for the day. Fans, including some from overseas, who had already set off continued to the ground to maybe get a refund on their tickets or to buy something from the club shop were met by the shutters up despite it being a day when the Turf Moor should have been open for business.
I would like the following questions answered:
Why was the undersoil heating turned off and only switched on 3 days before the game despite the constantly freezing temperatures?
Was the Match Saver used and if not why not?
Why were Burnley Football Club assuring people that the match was on when there simply must have been serious doubts about it?
Did the club cancel their catering order the day before the game and if so why?Why were we not informed that there was to be a pitch inspection?
Why did Turf Moor close down despite the expectation that some fans would arrive at the ground?
If there has been a genuine mistake it would be better to come out and admit it rather than to stay quiet.
If some part of this episode was unavoidable please tell us but at the moment there is definitely a suspicion that something fishy has gone on.
Along with all Clarets I only have a desire to see Burnley FC succeed and prosper in 2002 but at a time when the club is looking to attract more fans and not alienate them this has hardly been an ideal way to start the New Year.