Fans angered by late postponements

Newcastle, Blackburn and Bolton all earned the wrath of travelling fans last night after calling off matches at short notice.

Angry supporters called radio stations in protest at the lateness of the decisions – especially after some had travelled for many hours to the games.

Newcastle’s game against Charlton was postponed less than 30 minutes before kick-off, after a heavy snowfall, on the grounds of supporter safety.

Referee Mike Dean had passed the St James’ Park pitch fit beforehand only to announce 45 minutes later, at 7.20pm, it was off after all.

Dean said: “They could have taken the decision over but that’s out of my hands. My jurisdiction is the green bit, and that was playable, it was no problem.

“When the safety says there is a problem outside, I can’t say there isn’t.”

Blackburn announced they will carry out “a thorough investigation” of their undersoil heating system at Ewood Park after their Premiership game with Sunderland was postponed at 6pm.

Bolton also experienced problems with their undersoil heating and their game with Middlesbrough was called off at 5pm.

A total of 17 matches were postponed due to the weather including Stockport v Torquay, with travelling fans not discovering until 6.15pm the game was off.

Blackburn managing director Tom Finn said: “We have never lost a home Premier League fixture to frost and we can only offer our sincere apologies to all supporters, especially those who travelled down from the north east.

“We now intend to carry out a full investigation of the heating system in an effort to ensure that the situation does not happen again in the future.”

The Premier League do encourage clubs to make decisions as early as possible but spokesman Dan Johnson said it was down to referees, club safety officials and police to make the judgements.

He said: “All clubs have to have undersoil heating but you are still in the hands of the elements to some extent.

“We do advise clubs and officials to try to give as much notice as possible but if the weather deteriorates quickly then the safety of fans and players is paramount.”

Professor Derek Fraser, the chairman of the Independent Football Commission watchdog body, said clubs should not be held solely responsible.

He told PA Sport: “We do have sympathy with fans travelling long distances only to learn the game has been called off, but we also have sympathy with the clubs who usually do all they can to make sure the game is played.

“Unfortunately the weather can be unpredictable.”

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