Officials at Swinton Lions are seething after the RFL granted Rochdale Hornets dispensation to move this weekend’s pivotal Championship clash to to home of amateur neighbours Rochdale Mayfield.
The Hornets were due to host the Lions at Spotland this weekend, however the game was thrown into doubt after they were informed the pitch would not be ready in time due to it recently being reseeded.
As a result, the Championship strugglers applied to move their game to Steve Gartland Way, the home of Mayfield.
The RFL have now approved the move, much to the fury of Swinton.
“It’s setting a dangerous precedent this,” said club chairman Andy Mazey.
“We’ve just had these midweek 1895 Cup games, Leigh had to hire St Helens’ ground, but they should have just gone to Leigh Miners, Sheffield should have just gone and played on the local park.
“It’s supposed to be a professional sport, there are minimum standards we have to comply to. I understand there have to be dispensations, but to be able to use a facility that’s sub-standard is not right.”
Mazey has requested access to the ground on Saturday morning so an independent health and safety audit can be carried out.
Head coach Stuart Littler added: “In the past we were told we couldn’t play at Sedgley Park so had to go to the AJ Bell, which is very costly to our club. I’ve nothing against Rochdale or Rochdale Mayfield, I played at Rochdale. But it’s an amateur club and it’s not a professional venue that meets the competition’s standards.
“I want to know if people checked out safeguarding and health and safety checks. I just think we go on about the integrity of the competition. Surely, we’re all playing under the same banner and the same rules. We could have saved that money last year and got a Super League player in for a month which could have had a massive effect on our team.
“It’s not a stadium, there’s a fence around the pitch. You don’t know what’s going to happen, I hope to god nothing does. You keep quiet about things and do things the right way. It stinks, it’s unacceptable.
“Why would Leigh go and play at St Helens on Wednesday night when they could have gone to Leigh East? You’ve got to treat everybody the same. We travelled to Widnes a few seasons back to play Bradford because we were told Sedgley Park wasn’t up to standard, then this happens.”
In a statement, Rochdale said: “This has been an incredibly difficult situation due to the delays in the pitch work at the Crown Oil Arena.
“What we would like to place on record is the outstanding help from Rochdale Mayfield at such short notice, which will further strengthen the growing links between the two clubs.
“Unfortunately, the change in venue has meant that both the schools finals day that we had planned for Sunday, and the Hornets Ladies’ match against West Leeds, have both had to be postponed, and we apologise to both for the inconvenience that has caused.
“We now hope that the rugby league community of the town rallies round the two clubs on Sunday and watches a host of Rochdale Mayfield-produced players feature in what is a crucial Betfred Championship match.”
The RFL have been contacted for comment.