Angry Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger's cold snap at winter weather chaos

09 January 2010 01:19
Arsene Wenger has called on the Premier League to ensure fair play to all by investigating requests to postpone fixtures because of bad weather.

Liverpool's match with Tottenham, scheduled for 4pm tomorrow, was called off yesterday after league officials twice demanded further information from Liverpool.

Wenger: call for honesty

Angry fans flooded radio phone-ins, asking why it was postponed so early.

Last night, only four of the weekend's Premier League games had survived.

Wenger had earlier raised the concern it could suit certain teams to call off matches.

How Sunderland came to call off the matchSUNDERLAND offered fans an insight into the factors they considered before calling off the game against Bolton. Among them are:

i) Staffing levels for safety stewards, North East Ambulance Service, First Aid (St John Ambulance), Crowd doctors, Northumbria Police.

ii) Condition of pitch, seating deck, levels of snow/ice at roof level, condition of car parks and emergency access routes.

iii) Condition of 'blue light' emergency route to the stadium, approach roads to stadium, routes for Bolton, public transport.

'The Premier League has a responsibility to check if everybody behaves honestly,' said the Arsenal manager.

'I don't have any suspicions. What maybe should happen is that the Premier League sends somebody from the Premier League to investigate the pitch and make a decision. It can be a check on the surrounding area as well.'

Liverpool tried to call off the game 53 hours before kick-off when they contacted the Premier League at 11am yesterday and provided them with details of communication with the local authorities and the Merseyside police.

But knowing heavy snow showers are not anticipated in the north west this weekend, the Premier League demanded a written submission from Liverpool City Council before agreeing to postpone the match - along with today's matches at Hull, Sunderland, Fulham and Burnley.

Back in October the clubs received strict guidelines regarding the postponement of matches and the Premier League made it clear again yesterday that, while never wishing to put the safety of individuals at risk, they would prefer to avoid the fixture chaos that is being caused by the worst British winter in nearly 30 years.

Ice one: Arsenal staff clear snow from the stadium

A group of Liverpool fans from Germany have already spent thousands of pounds between them on a dream trip to Anfield for tomorrow's postponed game.

'Eight arrived today after travelling overland from Moenchengladbach, and another six phoned to say they were flying over tomorrow,' said Graham Agg, secretary of the German Reds official supporters club.

'With a couple of nights' accomodation thrown in, it will have cost them a few hundred quid each, for sure. They'll have a great time in Liverpool anyway, but the game is far and away the highlight. They only come two or three times a year and look forward to it months in advance. It is going to be a crushing disappointment for them.'

Les Lawson, secretary of the official Liverpool Supporters' Club, sympathised with Anfield officials, as well as frustrated fans. 'If it is on police advice, there is not much anyone can do,' he said. In fairness to Liverpool, the match does appear to have been postponed due to circumstances beyond their control.

As the council explained to the Premier League, they do not have the resources to make the pavements and streets around Anfield safe for the 44,000 spectators who would have attended the game.

Rafa Benitez insisted yesterday that he was keen for the match to take place, and the fact that he has only two key absentees in the suspended Javier Mascherano and the injured Glen Johnson does support that - particularly since Tottenham would have been significantly weakened by the absence of the injured Aaron Lennon.

'For us, you understand, we were training, and for us it would be better to play,' said Liverpool's manager. 'But for safety reasons the club think it would be better to call the game off.

Snow go: Sunderland were forced to call off their game early

'You have to decide early. You cannot wait and allow the fans to travel from London and different places.'

Sunderland postponed their match with Bolton after a second meeting of their Safety Advisory Group yesterday. Ken Scott, chair of the group, said: 'The responsibility of the group is to ensure the safety of supporters, staff and attendant emergency services and to protect and look after the wellbeing of those people, which includes consideration of their safe arrival and departure from the stadium.

'Our view is that the ability to do this would be severely compromised if we chose to go ahead with the game.

'The early timing has been deliberate in order to avoid many thousands of people embarking on unnecessary and potentially hazardous journeys and to also negate additional impact upon local authority resources and the emergency services.'

Hull were confident they would be able to stage their clash with Premier League leaders Chelsea but more heavy snow yesterday afternoon forced them to call the match off.

Only three games remain in the Championship - at Cardiff, Coventry and Derby - and two in League One, at Leeds and Norwich. All games in League Two are postponed. North of the border, 10 ties in the Scottish Cup fourth round will now have to be rearranged.

In rugby union, five of the weekend's six Guinness Premiership matches have been called off including Worcester's clash with London Irish which was postponed due to a frozen pitch. Leicester v Wasps is the only other game set to go ahead.

 Cold snap claims four Premier League fixtures including Liverpool's crunch match with TottenhamTHE BIG FOOTBALL FREEZE: Sporting fixtures falling as fast as the snow - Sportsmail's list of the postponed matchesNow we're running out of grit: Councils forced to ration dwindling supplies as Britain faces weekend of chaos


Source: Daily_Mail