York City Knights chairman Jon Flatman says York expect to be awarded their match with Rochdale after it was postponed.
The game was called off late on Sunday afternoon, with the Hornets claiming it was due to high winds and adverse weather conditions, which meant ground staff were unable to remove pitch covers and erect the posts.
York were left furious due to the uncertainty of the fixture, with the game not officially called off until after the scheduled 3 PM kick-off. Both sets of players were ready to warm up while the covers were still on the pitch.
In a statement, Flatman said York should be awarded the two league points.
He said: “There is a clear issue to resolve when both teams players, staff and officials want a game to occur and issues created via the Stadium Management company and contractors result in a different outcome.
“The match commissioner was clear that the pitch was playable and he tried his very best to reason with a group of individuals who had a different agenda. Health and safety is a primary concern of all parties however it is not correct to use this backdrop to mask a different agenda.
“It’s the players and fans with whom I have the greatest sympathy. The new wave of York fans, over 300 in number, who have travelled to the game with good intentions have been let down today and quite rightly they are asking questions of our club, the Rochdale club and the sport as a whole.
“Be under no illusions though, York City Knights explored every avenue to get the game on and expect the two league points to be awarded to us and for a clear message to be sent that professional rugby league has obligations of all clubs with respect of ground availability. In light of today, we will further review this position with the arrangements at new community stadium.”
But on Tuesday, Rochdale responded to dismiss Flatman’s suggestions they should be allocated the points.
It read: “The game was cancelled due to legitimate safety concerns at the Crown Oil Arena raised by stadium ground staff. High winds meant it was dangerous to remove the protective dome, and erect the rugby posts.
“An unsuccessful attempt was made to erect the posts at the Sandy Lane end of the ground and as time moved on, a decision was made by the head groundsman, in conjunction with the ground safety officer that the game would need to be cancelled. Rochdale Hornets are reliant on the expertise of qualified safety professionals to make these safety assessments, and as such, we are supportive of the decision made.”
It continued: “Although the club were not made aware of the safety concerns until early afternoon, we apologise unreservedly to all supporters, particularly those who travelled significant distances for a lack of communication and our inability to convey the potential risk to the game.
“The club have already submitted reports to the RFL operational department (Monday, March 11) and will continue to assist them with their investigation into the circumstances around Sunday’s cancellation.
“We do, however, strongly disagree that the match points should be awarded to York City Knights.
“Rochdale Hornets believe the correct course of action would be to rearrange the game. Two points should always be won or lost over the course of 80 minutes, and we believe there is sufficient time remaining in the season to work together and play the game that the supporters were excited to be a part of.”
An RFL spokesperson added: “This is clearly an unhappy and unusual situation, when a game is called off at such short notice and when spectators, including visiting spectators, are already at the ground.
“We will be looking into the circumstances as a matter of urgency.”