Livingston’s clash with Aberdeen was postponed for the second time on Wednesday night, ten minutes after its scheduled kick off time. A last-minute pitch inspection led to the park being deemed unplayable due to excess surface water caused by rapid rainfall in the hours before the game.
Dons manager Derek McInnes expressed his frustration after travelling down from Aberdeen for the second time in recent weeks, but stated that he felt the decision made was the right one for the safety of the players.
“It looks dangerous. It is dangerous. The amount of water on the pitch is unusual. I think it’s caught us out to be honest,” McInnes said.
“There’s no blame to Livingston here…I think we all agreed that the pitch was unsafe. It was whether we started the game, or delayed the game, but with the forecast I think it’s to remain like this all night. The pitch isn’t going to get any better.”
“At no point in the day, even arriving at the stadium, did we think think there was any doubt the game would go ahead.”
McInnes praised match official Steven McLean for his decision, saying that the referee made sure to consult players as well as the managers before taking definitive action.
“I think the referee, quite cleverly in my opinion, has went round the players, senior players, players that he’s obviously known for a long time, a few in my team, and I think a few in the Livingston team, and he asked their opinion.”
“I think the players expressed concerns. The referee asked the players if they thought the pitch was unsafe and dangerous and I think the consensus from all the players was, and he’s right with that.
However, Livi boss David Martindale, whose side are on an eight-game winning run, felt his players were more than willing to get the game started.
“I think you had a majority of the Aberdeen players looking at it and thinking (it was unsafe), and then probably a majority of Livingston players sitting and saying ‘we want to try and play’. Livingston players have the benefit they’ve played and trained on the park when it’s maybe been similar. I understand all parties if I’m honest.”
Martindale explained that the tarmac underneath the Lions’ artificial surface at the Tony Macaroni Arena may well be frozen. The Livingston manager conveyed the disappointment he and his players were feeling at the game’s postponement.
“I understood the referee’s concerns to be honest…I’m just gutted. The boys are gutted. I think everyone’s gutted. You’ve trained all week and prepared for a game of football and then when it doesn’t happen it’s a wee bit of a kick.”
“The park was perfect, in my opinion, up until about 6 o’clock.”
In an unusual occurrence, the referee spoke to journalists after the game to explain the decision made by him and his assistants.
McLean said, “During the warm up, players from both sides reported that they felt the pitch was unsafe and they had problems with their footing. As a match official, that gives you concern.”
“Unfortunately, it’s really late in the day. It’s disappointing. It’s the last thing we want to do, but player safety has to be the number one priority and unfortunately nothing could be done.”
Both managers mentioned the weekend of Saturday 30th January as a potential date to reschedule the fixture, which was originally scheduled for the third round of the Scottish Cup before the announcement earlier this week from the SFA to suspend all football below the Championship for an initial period of three weeks.
It’s a trip to Dingwall for Aberdeen next as they take on bottom club Ross County, while Livi go to Parkhead for the first instalment of a double-header against a Celtic side engulfed in the aftermath of their Dubai excursion.