Non League Daily

Last-ditch postponement 'totally unacceptable' says Chester chief exec

Chester have branded the late postponement of their clash at Eastleigh as 'totally unacceptable' after the National League fixture was called off just over two hours before kick-off.

Marcus Bignot's Blues were just 15 miles from Ten Acres when match officials, led by referee Savvas Yianni, deemed the pitch unplayable at 12.30pm with a corner of the playing surface to the right-hand side of the far penalty box adjudged to be dangerous for the players.

Chester chief executive Mark Maguire had received phone calls from Eastleigh on Friday evening and at midday Saturday stating there were 'no issues whatsoever' with the pitch, with the hosts also taking the decision to cancel a planned pitch inspection scheduled for 7am Saturday.

It is the second time this season that Chester have seen one of their fixtures postponed at short notice, after their opening day trip to Solihull Moors was cancelled 24 hours in advance.

In a statement, Eastleigh suggested that faulty drainage was to blame for the postponement, with club officials and Mr Yianni declining to comment further on the decision.

"We had a phone call on Friday, late afternoon, from a local referee to say that he'd been asked to look at the pitch as a courtesy, that from his perspective the pitch was playable," Maguire explained, speaking pitchside after making the 200-mile trip down south.

"That set alarm bells ringing with us so I made contact with the secretary of Eastleigh to establish whether there were any concerns because that had raised alarm bells.

"The secretary at Eastleigh said he'd been in communication with the manager, that there had been a planned inspection for Saturday morning (7am) but they decided between them that there were no issues whatsoever.

"The forecast was there was no rain forecast until midday today, and on that basis the planned inspection was cancelled. They'd been in communication with the match referee on those lines, and out of courtesy the match referee agreed to come down 15 minutes earlier to inspect but they didn't forsee any problems, bear in mind the weather forecast etc.

"Bear in mind we were leaving at 7.45am, so if there was any change on that to please let us know ahead of time because we didn't want to travel (if the game was postponed) and equally to let the fans know who were travelling.

"We then received a phone call at midday from their secretary telling us there were no issues with the pitch. They said an inspection wasn't necessary but could the ref get here 15 minutes earlier just to have a look. He's travelled two and a half hours too so he's probably just as fed up as we are."

Read more at: http://www.chesterstandard.co.uk/

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