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Interviews

MANAGER: Everybody wanted the game on

More from Paul Simpson on the Bradford postponement

23 January 2023

Interviews

MANAGER: Everybody wanted the game on

More from Paul Simpson on the Bradford postponement

23 January 2023

United boss Paul Simpson spoke once again this afternoon about the frustration of the Saturday afternoon call-off at Bradford, particularly with well over a thousand United fans having made their way across the Pennines.

“It’s a massive frustration for the fans, they’re the ones we’re really disappointed for,” he said. “We wanted the game on, we were in the hotel having the pre-match meal, and I can only presume that Bradford City wanted it on as well.

“I found out by third hand really that there was going to be a pitch inspection, that was mid-morning, so it came as a little bit of a surprise. I don’t really know where the breakdown came, or how it came to be that there was an inspection scheduled for 12pm.

“I know the referee looked at it on Friday and he said that it was playable at 3pm on that day. I think the temperatures were lower than expected that night, and then the freezing fog came in, which also wasn’t expected, and come Saturday there was no way the game could have been played.

“That’s the really disappointing factor. For us, it’s our job, we had to go there, it doesn’t cost us anything to get there, but our fans have all had to pay good money to make that trip.

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“There was well over a thousand of them going to support us and it’s nothing but a wasted journey with wasted cost for them. We could all do without that.

“It’s not a case of apportioning blame with anybody, I don’t know who you could blame, I just think we need to be better at getting the timings right in certain situations. We know everybody wanted the game on, and we have lost out on two Saturday fixtures ourselves where we expected bumper crowds.

“When the fixtures came out and we looked at Barrow and Hartlepool at home, we all commented on how good they would be. Good support would have been there for the Saturday afternoons, and we’ve lost that.

“The likelihood is that we won’t get the same size crowds on a Tuesday night, and we have to take that on the chin.

“I accept that Bradford would have definitely wanted that game to go ahead, but I do think that for the sake of the fans they probably should have been saved making that journey if that was at all possible.

“I’m not looking for blame, not one bit, because we can’t say whose door it lands at. I just feel really disappointed for our supporters.”

On the process of late postponements happening that way, he commented: “We look at forecasts and the ground staff think about covers, and things like that, and apparently covers had been used at Bradford.

“It was colder than forecast overnight on Friday, and I don’t know what time anybody went into the stadium to have a look that morning. All I can say is that when we were travelling, we got over the other side of the A66 and it was freezing fog everywhere.

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“That was the first time I started to think that there might be a bit of a problem, but we had to carry on with the mindset that we were playing. We were having our pre-match meal when the decision came that it was off, and we then had to scramble around and try to make a plan for the rest of our weekend.

“We were actually sent photographs which showed Bradford training on the pitch that afternoon, and I accept that the tunnel end was frozen, but the other side where they trained was ok. They’ve made the most of it, we weren’t able to do that, but it’s all done now. Again, it's no hardship to us, but I do think that we have to feel for the supporters.”

Always a difficult situation when fans are making a slightly longer journey, it comes more into focus when it has been done in larger numbers.

“We are an entertainment industry so the people we’re looking to entertain have to be considered,” he said. “Obviously player safety is paramount, in terms of is the pitch safe to play on, but we also have to consider the fans making trips like that.

“If we know what time they’re going to set off, we should maybe think about that, because they can pay out a lot of money to follow their team.

“There certainly needs to be a tightening up of the guidelines in my opinion, and we have to remember that this only happens every so often. It isn’t something that happens regularly. There needs to be a better system in place to avoid this sort of thing if we can.”


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