Sunday, 21 April 2019

Club fined for refusing to play on wet pitch

A FOOTBALL club has been fined after refusing to play out the second half of a league match due to a “waterlogged” pitch.

Woodcote/Stoke Row claimed that the away surface was unplayable and meant their Thames Valley Premier League game against Berks County in December had to be abandoned.

The Oxfordshire Football Association has issued a £100 fine and the league has rejected a plea to have the match replayed.

A league disciplinary panel met on Thursday last week and it agreed to award the three points to Berks County which puts a dent in Woodcote’s chances of winning the division title.

Sam Peates, 72, president of the club, believes the first team were right to walk off.

He said: “I have been involved in local football for 50 years and I think I know what I am talking about when it comes to pitches. I am also involved in looking after the pitch at Woodcote.

“It rained pretty much non-stop from the start of the game against Berks County. Conditions were so bad that at half time people from the home team were out there sweeping water off the pitch but it was flooded.”

Play did get under way but after 10 minutes, the hosts were awarded a penalty which, if they scored, would have given them a 2-0 lead.

Woodcote’s players and manager then asked the referee to stop the game, saying the conditions were too poor to continue.

After the referee disagreed, the players came off the pitch, and the official had no option but to abandon the game.

Mr Peates, who played for Woodcote between 1975 and 2003, stopping aged 57, said the club accepted the charge of causing the game to be abandoned but that it was unhappy at dropping points.

He said: “Although we accepted the charge, we also put forward what we consider to be strong mitigating circumstances which we thought would have given us a slap of the wrist.

“Losing the three points will effectively finish our chances of winning the league. Having had the fine, it feels that we are being punished twice.”

Woodcote is considering an appeal against the decision to the Berks and Bucks FA.

A spokesman for the Oxfordshire FA said it would not comment on individual misconduct charges but added: “Referees are trained as to whether a pitch is safe and playable.”

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