10 February 2020

Football authorities criticised after they call games off just hours before kick-off despite early warning

Football authorities have been criticised for cancelling games late on due to Storm Ciara despite being warned on Saturday that the matches may not be able to go ahead.

Clubs across the Women's Super League and Women's Championship were frustrated that games weren't cancelled earlier in the weekend after warnings from police and environmental agencies of winds up to 80 mph.

Ash Head, one of 1,500 single share owners of Championships team Lewes FC, revealed he called for a postponement on Saturday but received no response from the Football Association.

Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: "I feel in exceptional circumstances, such as this weekend’s clear and early weather warnings, the relevant associations – the WSL and Championship – should help clubs by issuing an advisory.

“If the police are warning people not to travel unless ‘absolutely necessary’, that’s a clear indication that games should be postponed.

“I believe Villa travelled at least part way to Durham and Sheffield were headed to London to play Charlton. Those teams now need to get home in dangerous conditions. A flag from the FA on Saturday morning could have saved a lot of wasted time and potentially unrecoverable costs.”

Every game in the top four divisions of women's football was called off at the weekend as a result of the storm.

However, the FA Women’s National League - the third and fourth tiers - did call off their matches on Saturday.

An FA spokesperson said: “Spectator, player and staff safety is paramount. To ensure ground safety, we have worked with club and referee officials to make localised decisions on matches. With unprecedented numbers of postponements across multiple sports being confirmed today, this would appear to be the approach followed by a number of sports leagues and governing bodies.

“Clubs’ operational and safety teams will have completed ground safety inspections and are advised to follow FA postponement guidance, competition rules and liaise with the match officials, the league, the FA and the visiting club. “The FA is working closely with clubs to rearrange postponed fixtures. Further information regarding rearranged fixtures will be published in due course.”

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