Ciderspace News Page : One Rule For One Club, And One Rule For Another?
2 December 2010 : One Rule For One Club, And One Rule For Another?
From one extreme to another - Yeovil Town's FA Cup opponents Hartlepool United have already called off their Saturday League One match against Southampton. After Yeovil Town's attempt to play at Victoria Park on the weekend just gone was curtailed just two hours before kick-off, after fans had already reached the ground, Pools have managed the opposite for this weekend's fixture, getting the game called off just after 10.00a.m. on Thursday morning.

Pools have cited heavy snow, the forecast for sub-zero temperatures, along with Southampton Airport being closed meaning that Saints would have to negotiate their way along many snowbound roads. Obviously the early nature of the postponement would suggest that Tuesday's rearranged FA Cup Second Round match may need to be kept an eye on. Let's hope that this time round though that any decisions are not left until the last minute.

In this week's Western Gazette, Glovers director Stephen Allinson, who arrived at Victoria Park on Saturday morning and joined in with shovelling snow off the pitch, apologised to supporters for the wasted journey Glovers fans had on the day, and said that he was considering contacting Football League Chairman Greg Clarke to ask why it was so difficult to get games called off early, suggesting that the footballing authorities needed a 'reality check' to recognise the huge distances supporters were covering in bad weather:

"As directors we apologise to the fans who made the long journey to Hartlepool. It was completely out of our hands and we checked with the club on Friday, who said they were doing all they could to make sure the game went ahead and the forecast looked good. We know from past experience that the football authorities simply will not agree to any early postponements as it has been tried before. What is frustrating is that I spoke to Hartlepool manager Mick Wadsworth after the game was postponed and he said it could have been off from the previous Wednesday."

Given that in such circumstances, fans are travelling through dangerous conditions knowing there is a risk a game is going to be called off, Allinson adds that the footballing authorities need to get their priorities straight and realise what they are putting fans through by leading them out on wasted journeys:

"It seems to me that the authorities have to decide whether they are in it for the fans. It costs our fans a lot of money to travel. We feel responsible for our fans but this was out of our hands. If both clubs agree that the weather is going to make playing the game very difficult I cannot see why the football authorities cannot agree as well and say we can fix the game for another date."

The question has to be asked - why did Yeovil Town's trip get left until two hours before kick-off for a decision to be made, yet Southampton have been able to force a decision over 50 hours before their game takes place at the same ground? Some consistency with clubs would be useful here.

Meanwhile, Hartlepool have been keeping busy off the field during this time, with caretaker manager Mick Wadsworth being told that he now has a permanent position as First Team Coach to head up the team until the end of the 2010-11 season. His remit is to keep Hartlepool in League One, with Chairman Ken Hodcroft stating that the club would replan over the summer of 2011, with a number of staff in and around the football management position having left recently.

The County Durham club have also issued their accounts for the end of 2009, and report an operating loss of 1.1 million. They also lost the same amount in their 2008 accounts, and owners IOR had to provide a loan of 1.5 million to cover this, taking their overall financial exposure to a running total of 12 million. Hartlepool recorded a turnover of 3.04 million, with players wages costing them 2.11 million. Pools admit that this is too high, and that if their wages were measured against the Salary Capping percentage recorded by League Two clubs, then it would stand at 82 percent. The League Two capping level is 60 percent - at League One level it is merely advisory.

Hartlepool continue to blame a proportion of their financial position upon the fact that they no longer own their ground, with previous owners having separated out the ownership, and the Council having purchased the land when the club fell into financial problems. Their attempts to repurchase the ground to bring it back under control of the football club have failed, and thus club owners IOR are reluctant to invest in land they do not own. Pools Chairman Hodcroft has issued a shot across the Council's bows as part of their financial statement, accusing the council of not being willing to help the club succeed:

"The attitude towards IOR and the Club beggars belief and unilateral statements made to the press are wholly unacceptable. Statements such as derogatory offers and claims for £600,000 payments shows the Council fail to recognise just what the owners have done for this town and Club. The owners have invested millions into this Football Club; the Council have done nothing to help. Consequently, unless the Council recognise their failings and the consequences of their actions and look realistically at what the Club and owners require and are trying to achieve - for the benefit of the town - the owners will need to carefully evaluate the economic model for the future of the Club. If financial support is withdrawn from the owners then the Club will disappear from League One (and possibly beyond) and the Council will have to answer to the townspeople/businesses and the people who elected them."

We're guessing that not too many Christmas cards will be swapped between Victoria Park, and their local council offices.

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Other News Items For 02/12/2010

02/12/2010 : Skivo Frustrated By Postponed Games
02/12/2010 : Hartlepool Cup Tie Pitch Inspection Planned
02/12/2010 : Glovers Staff Head Home To Avoid Snow
02/12/2010 : Yeovil Town vs Peterborough United Is OFF
02/12/2010 : Huish Park Ruled Out Of Yeovil Sports Zone Plans
02/12/2010 : Saturday's Posh Game - Weather Warning
02/12/2010 : One Rule For One Club, And One Rule For Another?
02/12/2010 : Bournemouth Man Of The Match Result

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