Partick blame SRU for failure to turn on undersoil heating

PARTICK Thistle last night blamed the club's groundsharing arrangement with Glasgow Warriors for yesterday's Scottish Cup clash with Dunfermline being postponed.

The fourth round tie was called off just 75 minutes before the scheduled kick-off after match referee Scott MacDonald deemed the Firhill surface too dangerous.

Fans of both sides had already arrived at the ground believing the fixture would be in no danger due to Thistle's undersoil heating.

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But Thistle chairman Allan Cowan claimed a Scottish Rugby Union groundsman had failed to switch on the heating until yesterday morning, despite freezing overnight conditions having been widely forecast

The Partick chairman revealed: "The match has been called off because a groundsman misjudged the weather.

"The truth of the matter is that the heating wasn't switched on because the groundsman didn't expect it to be quite as cold as it was overnight and I think he also expected the weather to be sunnier this afternoon which would clear any frost.

"We've had a change of arrangement for the park. With the Warriors groundsharing with us the SRU are responsible for the maintenance of the pitch so our own regular groundsman is no longer in day-to-day control of the park. The undersoil heating wasn't switched on until first thing this morning. It's a lesson learned."

Cowan, who admitted the cancellation will cost Thistle a substantial sum, said: "You can bet you're bottom dollar that knuckles will be rapped. It's something that will be dealt with."

The game is now scheduled to go ahead on Tuesday, January 22.

Clyde's TV cash fight

CLYDE were last night fighting to rescue an 82,500 windfall after their Sky TV clash with Dundee United was called off because of a frozen pitch.

The First Division side saw their desperate attempts to keep on their fourth round tie with United – scheduled for 12.45pm yesterday – dashed at just after 11am when referee Mike Tumilty declared their pitch unplayable.

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That left Clyde facing the very real prospect of missing out on their share of the 165,000 TV money with a fixture pile-up and a congested live calendar putting the screening of the postponed fixture in doubt.

They spent an hour locked in talks with United officials in the wake of the call-off but have yet to come to a firm agreement to move the game to accommodate TV.

The only available live Sky slot is on Thursday because of live English Championship, FA Cup replay and Spanish football but United don't want to put back their expected 14,000 sell-out with Aberdeen to get the TV money.

Further talks between all parties will take place on Monday but Clyde are facing the prospect of losing the sort of money that could fund their wage bill for a season.

Clyde manager Colin Hendry, who had his players training on the Broadwood turf just hours after the call-off, said: "You can't underplay the importance of the money we'd stand to get from TV for playing this game.

"82,500 is a lot of money to a club like ours. Let's face it – it's a lot of money in anyone's terms, it could mean the difference between signing players or not. I could do a lot for our team with the extra money so the hope is that somehow we get a deal to have this game shown again on Sky."

Larsson staying put

FORMER Celtic striker Henrik Larsson has ended speculation linking him with a return to Parkhead by signing a new one-year contract at Helsingborg. The Swedish veteran agreed to the new deal yesterday morning.

Larsson, 36, had been linked with a return to Parkhead during the January transfer window but opted to commit himself to staying in Sweden.

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Helsingborg sporting director Bo Nilsson said: "We are very happy he is staying with us. We had an option for another year in his contract and we have exercised that option. I've just come out of a meeting with Henrik and he is happy to spend the next year with us."

Larsson had been considering his options and had left the door open for a possible move this month. Nilsson said: "I think the main problem was that he had a very long season. He has also played for two-and-a-half years without a break.

"He played in 2005 then had the World Cup in 2006 and moved on loan to Manchester United during the Swedish league break in 2007. He then played all the way through to December for us. And he's played extremely well all the way through."

Stark's McCarthy bid

NEW Scotland under-21 manager Billy Stark has insisted he will do all in his power to prevent Hamilton prospect Jamie McCarthy being lost to the national side as Aiden McGeady was before him. McGeady invoked the grandparent rule to play for the Republic of Ireland rather than his native Scotland.

Stark, who will oversee Scotland national sides from the 15s age group upwards, hope a similar situation can be avoided by 16-year-old McCarthy, who has played for the Republic at youth level because he says it was the wish of his late Irish grandfather that he did so.

Stark said: "With the grandparentage rule there are ones that you can maybe lose so we have to try and do our best to avoid that happening. That doesn't guarantee anything, but we have to do what we can. I have not seen much of McCarthy but he has good ability. The McGeady situation was disappointing for Scotland. I don't know the circumstances but I'm pretty sure it was explored fully and sometimes you can't influence things the way you would like. If people have their hearts set on playing for the Republic of Ireland, as it was in that case, it is very difficult to change that."