Friday, 3 January 2014

Apologies To Oxford Fans

I doubt that any of us are surprised by confirmation that the cup tie tomorrow has been postponed. I can’t vouch for the amount of water dropped on it over the past week as I decamped to Amsterdam with my French partner Suzanne to see in the new year there (for the record it was great fun, with the enjoyment enhanced by the news of Jackson’s late equaliser, although the Dutch seem to lose their inhibitions that time of the year when someone puts a firework in their hand; they were going off in all places all night, in a less than organised fashion). But judging from the weather there, and the fact that at the moment our playing surface is veering between the bloody difficult and the downright unplayable, a damp morning seems to have been enough to have the game already called off.

I’ve no interest in indulging in conspiracy theories related to the club’s desire to play a game which it would presumably have lost money on, to shift the loss to a new owner, or indeed to secure a place in the fourth-round draw by any means. But I hope we have the decency to formally apologise to Oxford and especially their supporters. They’ve been robbed of a decent day out and many will probably be unable to attend a rescheduled midweek game. It would be a decent gesture on our part to offer financial recompense to them, or even to offer to play the game at their ground (were that to be allowed by the rules), but given our current financial condition I guess that’s not going to happen.

Weather conditions may be exceptional, the Doncaster postponement at half-time may be written off as one of those things. But having played all subsequent games at home in difficult conditions and now having a match called off a day in advance it’s a real embarrassment. Just when the league gets involved and what a club’s responsibilities are regarding playing surfaces I’ve no idea, but if there are problems with next Saturday’s home game I’d have thought it reasonable for questions to be asked at an official level. With that in mind, it feels to me like time for the club to make a fuller statement than the comments made to date, including what remedial action is possible in the short term. Colin Powell and his staff should not be left to carry the can if the current state of affairs has arisen because of a lack of investment/a cutting of corners when it comes to the playing surface.

In the interim, we await confirmation that the purchase of the club has gone through, with the fresh media reports suggesting that it has but as yet no announcement from the club. Suffice to say, if Monsieur Duchatelet wishes to begin a tenure on the right note he will quickly confirm that Sir Chris is being retained – and vice versa.

And as a postscript, since penning the above it has to be fair chucked down and there has been confirmation of the takeover on the club site. Now over to you Monsieur Duchatelet. 

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