Oldham Athletic, like all supporters, are very disappointed that today’s game against Southend United has been postponed.
After the covers were placed on the pitch on Thursday afternoon, temperatures continued to drop and when the covers were removed this morning, an area underneath the main stand was frozen.
Whilst the rest of the pitch was playable, the area underneath the stand remained without sunlight. Ground staff, office staff and Oldham Event Centre staff worked tirelessly to try to get the game on but the referee made the decision to call the game off.
Explaining his decision, referee David Webb said: “I was asked to come in by the secretary this morning.
“He spoke to me at 10:30am and I arrived at the ground at 11am because I was in the area. He said there was a few areas of concern in front of the main stand where the shadow comes across the field.
“It was frozen and he was concerned it wouldn’t thaw out before the game so I came in at 11am and inspected the area that he spoke about and it was frozen.
“The problem we have is the area remains in the shade because the rest of the field where the sun is is totally fine and playable.
“What I needed to know as a referee is with the shade moving, what could we do to get the game on?
“The covers had been on throughout the week and they had done everything they could building up to today.
“The options were to try and get rid of the frost in the frozen areas. The only thing that could be done is to put the warm water on to the areas.
“We did that from 11am until 12noon and there was no improvement.
“From a refereeing side of thing, can I guarantee player safety for 90 minutes and unfortunately I couldn’t do that so I took the decision to postpone the game.”
Webb paid tribute to the efforts of the staff prior to today for their hard work to get the game on.
“I was speaking with the groundsman and putting water on the pitch is probably an option he doesn’t want to take because it could destroy that area of the field,” he added.
“To try and get the match on today, Oldham made the decision to put boiling water on that area of the field.
“There was ground staff, office staff and chefs so I couldn’t fault the effort of the club to get the game on but unfortunately the weather has beaten us today.”