CHARLTON’S chief operating officer Steve Bradshaw has apologised to fans after Saturday’s Valley game with Barnsley was called off following a lunchtime pitch inspection.
Referee Iain Williamson decided the SE7 surface was too dangerous to play on despite the club’s ground staff working overtime all week to get the game on.
With the previous weekend’s original FA Cup date with Oxford having been postponed, a MacLeod cover was installed to protect the pitch from further rain.
This came too late to get the first rescheduled Oxford game on last Wednesday, although the club had been very confident the Tykes clash would go ahead – until Mr Williamson had the final say.
“We are genuinely sorry for both sets of fans,” said Mr Bradshaw.
“I must also pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of the ground staff both before the weekend and since.
“They were back in at 7am on Sunday and the pitch is getting better by the day.
“It is difficult for me to criticise the referee.
“He has to decide whether there was any lateral water on the pitch and whether the ball runs through.
“Clearly the pitch was not waterlogged but he has to look at player safety and I totally understand that.”
Barnsley became the fourth Valley fixture to be called off because of the weather this season following the August abandonment of the Doncaster game and the subsequent two postponements against Oxford.
The good news is an early inspection to finally get the Oxford match on tomorrow evening has proved successful, although this still needs to be confirmed on the day by the match official.
However, Mr Bradshaw has again reiterated the club’s determination to solve the problem once and for all during the close season.
When asked why the issue had not been dealt with last summer, he replied: “The pitch has had significant drainage issues which have got worse over the last year or so.
“We invested a lot of money in the pitch but what we didn’t have the opportunity to do was a reconstruction of the pitch.
“The playing surface actually looked quite good in the early games, the problem is the drainage.
“We are currently looking at the scale of renovation we can do and are totally committed to a full restoration. We will invest significantly in the summer.”
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