GARY Rowett was incredulous after Burton Albion’s FA Cup third round tie at Bournemouth was postponed due to a “waterlogged” pitch.
Referee Iain Williamson called the game off after a 1.30pm pitch inspection, despite there being only one small patch of the Dean Court playing surface where water was lying.
Several hundred Brewers fans had made the trip hoping to see another gutsy cup performance from Rowett’s plucky side – but were instead left with a three hours-plus trip back to Burton.
Now, with the tie set to be played a week tomorrow – Tuesday, January 14 – many of the fans will be unable to go.
“In my opinion the game should have gone ahead and I’m disappointed,” said Rowett. “I went on the pitch and – I’m not here to make a problem – but there’s only a strip down the side of the pitch that’s quite wet, but the ball’s rolling and the ball’s bouncing.
“I genuinely think it’s been called off for what might’ve become a problem in the next hour or two.
“The problem for me with that is what do you do? Do you start calling off games on a Thursday because the forecast for Saturday isn’t good?
“At the end of the day, you can only judge what’s in front of you and I have to be honest, I think the pitch was playable.”
Rowett was disappointed for the fans who travelled to the south coast for the tie.
“If the game was going to be a massive problem in very poor conditions . . . but you can see the pitch is fantastic, just a small strip down the side,” he said.
“Our fans have travelled.
“I have to take a balanced view on what’s right and what’s appropriate.
“I’m disappointed for them and lots of people have travelled down.
“At the end of the day, the ref makes his decision based on what he sees.
“I said to him I can either agree with you or disagree with you.
“Everyone’s opinion is their opinion - in my opinion the pitch was completely playable. There wasn’t a problem.
“I’m not saying there wasn’t a chance of it deteriorating as the game went on, but if you saw the Crawley-Bristol Rovers game, it got to 75 minutes and the pitch was absolutely horrific.
“The ref said to me it might chop up, and I said you don’t call a game off because the pitch doesn’t look very good.
“You’d never have played football in the 1970s!”
Rowett also thinks the decision could be symptomatic of a game gone soft.
“The big thing comes out at the moment about endangering players’ safety,” said the manager. “I find that a hard one to think about really.
“Has everyone ever got hurt falling into a soft piece of mud or a puddle?
“I think the games going slightly soft, but I might turn around in an hour-and-a-half and say it was the right decision.
“But at the moment (before the game) I think it was a poor call.”