Cowdenbeath chairman Donald Findlay condemned the decision to call off his club’s Scottish Cup tie against Rangers just three hours before kick-off, insisting the game should have gone ahead.
The Scottish FA says it called a late inspection as temperatures dropped at Central Park in the afternoon. Local referee Scott Miller was called in and deemed a corner of the pitch as too dangerous for the fourth-round fixture to be played.
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard and his squad had not yet arrived in Cowdenbeath but the Ibrox club’s kit man Jimmy Bell was in attendance. Findlay, a former Rangers vice-chairman, claimed Bell influenced the postponement.
“A referee was summoned but apparently the driving force behind the decision appears to be the Rangers kitman which, to me, seems a bit odd,” said Findlay.
“I don’t know all the facts but that is the story that is kicking about. The referee looked at the pitch and has said there are areas that are unacceptable but I have to say I don’t agree.
“I have been on the pitch and I have looked at it. It is a winter pitch – if it is not pouring with rain then it is going to be firm but it will take a key and it would take a stud. I certainly don’t see any difficulty and the game should have been played but it has been killed off. It is very, very disappointing.”
The match was to have been televised live on Premier Sports, the first game of the subscription channel’s new Scottish Cup deal. It’s understood Premier Sports will show the tie on its rescheduled date of 30 January, softening the financial blow for Cowdenbeath of last night’s call-off.
The League Two club’s secretary, David Allan, revealed that overnight weather conditions on Thursday had undermined their efforts to ensure the match beat the freeze.
“We put the covers on the pitch on Wednesday but the problem was there was a big gale which lifted a couple of the sheets off and exposed two or three areas to the cold,” said Allan.
“We put the covers back on but the areas exposed are the side of the pitch which does not get much sun. We did various things today to ensure the pitch was playable but there are two areas which are just too hard.
“The referee [Scott Miller] will not be a popular man, I guess, but I don’t blame him. He had a difficult job and I made sure no-one from either side went out to influence him during his inspection. Rangers and ourselves both wanted the game on but it’s disappointing for everybody.”
Cowdenbeath manager Gary Bollan felt more time should have been allowed before making a final decision.
“The corner of the pitch concerned is touch and go but with a bit of work on it between the inspection and kick-off time, it could have been made playable,” said Bollan. “The rest of the pitch is absolutely ideal.
“We are frustrated and disappointed. To get to this late stage and have the game called off is massively disappointing. I’m probably annoyed as well.”