Ref’s call was right – Grant

PUBLISHED: 14:46 21 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:00 14 September 2010

DAVID CUFFLEY

Norwich City boss Peter Grant admitted that referee Martin Atkinson had made the correct decision in postponing the Championship match against Burnley at Turf Moor - despite leaving it until 90 minutes before kick-off to call the game off.

Norwich City boss Peter Grant admitted that referee Martin Atkinson had made the correct decision in postponing the Championship match against Burnley at Turf Moor - despite leaving it until 90 minutes before kick-off to call the game off.

The fixture was postponed at 1.30pm because of a waterlogged pitch with particular concerns over one corner of the playing surface.

It meant 450 city fans had made a wasted journey to Lancashire.

The match officials left the ground without commenting to reporters, but both managers attended a hastily arranged press conference.

Grant said: “We are obviously very disappointed the game is off, because we know we never had the greatest result last week, so we were desperate to get a game as quickly as possible.

“But as soon as you speak to the referee and the first word he mentions is danger, it concerns me a little bit because you have got to remember these players are human beings as well.”

Grant and his players inspected the pitch after arriving at the stadium just after 1pm.

He said: “It's amazing because one half of the pitch is excellent. You could actually play in training shoes on it. But on the other half the ball doesn't even roll. You walk on it and you're sinking underneath.

“The ground moves, which is difficult, and as soon as the ground moves underneath you've always got a problem with it.

“Martin Atkinson is obviously a Premiership referee and he's seen different conditions. He's decided to call it off and I think he's made the right decision to be perfectly honest with you.

“The top left-hand corner is a major problem. Even our left-back, he went on it and was concerned about it and, as a player, he said he thought the ref made the right decision.

“There is a danger. I am always concerned if you lose a player and the rain comes again and you have not even finished the game, then it becomes trouble.

“I am disappointed for our supporters who came up here, but the football club are going to reimburse their coach fare because it is a hell of a trek to come here and not have a match to watch and they are very disappointed.

“We are disappointed too because we are desperate to get another match in.”

Grant defended the referee against complaints that he could have called the game off earlier.

He said: “People are saying why didn't he call it off earlier? I think it's a big plus that he tried to give us as much chance as he possibly could.

“He's been here two hours before that and he said he could have called it off two hours ago but with the way the wind was coming he was going to give us every chance because he knows the amount of work that goes into a game and all the preparations.

“For supporters, they are desperate to have the game on but the very first word the ref used was danger. He's made the right call. It's heavily sanded and it's very, very wet still.

“There's supposed to be more drizzle this afternoon and I think in Burnley drizzle means a downpour.”

Burnley manager Steve Cotterill said he was “totally, totally depressed” by the postponement but he reluctantly accepted referee Martin Atkinson's decision.

He said: “I am very disappointed the game is off. It will now put us two games behind everyone else.”

Asked if he thought the pitch was playable he said: “A lot of it is but the far side in the bottom corner the referee has adjudged not to be playable and we have to go with his view on that.

“He was talking a lot about player safety.

“There is nothing we can do about it. The referee's made the decision and I don't think he was happy with it from 11.30.

“The ground staff had carried on working and I don't think that there was any more they really could have done.

“We would have wanted the referee to give it longer to see if it cleared up and you can't have it both ways.

“We have had an unbelievable amount of rain in the North West for a long time now.

“It is probably the most difficult thing a referee has to do and he's been around enough for a long time. He has no axe to grind and he didn't want to turn up today and have the game off.”

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