(Monday 30th December 2013)
Adams Park pitch - 2.40pm 29th December 2013 Fleetwood Town officials have continued to criticise the late postponement of their scheduled meeting with Wanderers on 29th December. Town Chief Executive Steve Curwood was quoted on The Cod Army official website as saying, "I think it was the right decision in the end (to call the game off). The pitch was bone hard and unplayable. We’ve arrived at around 12.30 and it was rock hard like a car park. Two ground staff were present on the pitch and just brushing the white surface with brooms and a leaf blower."

Wanderers issued a statement the day after the game, in an attempt to explain the situation. It read as follows:

"The club’s management would like to explain to supporters of Wycombe Wanderers and Fleetwood Town the exceptional circumstances which caused the postponement of yesterday’s fixture at Adams Park.
The referee declared the playing surface unplayable due to a frozen pitch at 2.40pm following a series of inspections throughout the day, and consultations with staff and officials from both clubs.
The groundstaff decided on Saturday evening not to operate the undersoil heating overnight, based on weather forecasts which predicted no ground frost and a surface temperature well above 0°C, rising to 7°C. When staff arrived at the stadium at dawn on Sunday morning, the heating was immediately switched on but was not sufficient to thaw the frost which had developed unexpectedly.
The club made every effort to prepare the pitch throughout the day, and assisted the referee with his decision-making processes with the safety of the players and the convenience of the supporters as high priorities.
An initial inspection at 1.30pm was inconclusive and a call by the referee was made at 2pm to allow the game to go ahead, which was communicated to supporters around the stadium. However, this decision was quickly placed on hold and it was agreed that a final call would be made once the players had been given the chance to warm up on the pitch to assess whether the surface was suitable.
At 2.40pm, the referee deemed the pitch unplayable, with agreement from both managers, and the match was postponed. It was felt that delaying the kick-off time would still not benefit the pitch sufficiently as there was a further drop in temperature and the surface had worsened since his decision at 2pm. The news was then relayed to supporters.
To reiterate, all tickets will be valid for the rearranged fixture - the date of which will be announced in due course. If supporters are unable to attend the match, they will be entitled to a ticket for an alternative fixture of their choice on a like-for-like basis or a full refund.
All 50/50 Matchday Draw tickets will be automatically entered into the draw at the rearranged fixture, and the winning number will be posted on wwfc.com the following day.
The club regrets that it was unable to fulfil the fixture and for the inconvenience caused to both sets of supporters.

However, Curwood continued in his statement, "The concerning element was that nobody made Fleetwood Town nor the referee aware at any stage that the game would be in doubt when it was obviously in doubt from the word go in the morning. Nobody informed our football club until we arrived at the ground. We will be asking questions as to why that was the case and why our supporters have had to travel so far down the motorway while the team has arrived here, and the game’s had to be called off twenty minutes before kick-off.”

The reasoning behind not turning on the undersoil heating at Adams Park is also being called into question. It's understood that a thermostat system had previously been used to maintain the pitch temperature at just above freezing. However, this appears to have been discontinued in favour of a manual method. Running costs of undersoil heating have been estimated at £3,500 for two days and with Wanderers' cash flow problems possibly coming to a head, that could have been a factor.

Curwood commented, “They have undersoil heating which is perfect for getting games on, but this was not used overnight, they claimed because an overnight frost wasn’t forecast, but to not get any information concerning this until after dinner time is slightly bewildering,” said The Cod Army Chief Exec. “We’ll find out a little bit more as to why that was the case in the next day or so, but I suspect that no one has even checked the pitch until almost dinner time as we would have been informed far sooner. The undersoil heating was then put on, at what time I don’t know , but undersoil heating for me is to prevent frost not cure it in a couple of hours. Once the pitch was frozen this game should have been called off at 09.00, or earlier ,to stop all the unnecessary upheaval for our fans, and even Wycombe supporters, who’s afternoon was also wasted."

Football League regulation 28.4 states the following:

28.4 When a League Match is postponed or abandoned the Visiting Club shall be entitled to receive from the Home Club out of the gate of either game, one set of travelling and/or hotel expenses (at the rate and as determined by the Executive from time to time) necessarily incurred by a party not exceeding twenty four and which in the opinion of the Executive are caused solely by the postponement or abandonment. This amount shall be a charge against the gate when calculating the 3% Pool under Article 67.2. A Club shall only be entitled to claim hotel expenses where it would be necessary or desirable for the Visiting Club to leave its headquarters before 9am on the day of the match, alternatively, not be possible to arrive back at its headquarters within five hours travelling time, including a stop of not more than 30 minutes, of the conclusion of the League Match.

Football League Membership - regulation 8 - Appendix 1 - Part 1 criteria 28.4 states the following:

28.4 Each Home Club shall provide full pitch frost covers and/or under soil heating (the specification of which shall meet the reasonable satisfaction of the Executive) which shall be operated to the extent necessary to procure, so far as it is reasonably possible, that the pitch is playable on the occasion of each match. A breach of this requirement which results in the postponement or abandonment of a match shall be dealt with in accordance with Regulation 28, and not Regulation 8.4.

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