BURY boss David Flitcroft has called for clubs to be given a bigger say on the postponement of matches following a wasted trip down to Devon.
His side’s scheduled League Two match at Torquay United was called off just after midday on Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch, less than three hours before kick-off.
Referee Dave Phillips delayed his decision for three hours following an initial inspection at 9am, a move that angered Bury fans, many of whom had arrived in Torquay by the time the announcement was made.
But Flitcrofft, who was at Plainmoor for both pitch inspections, believes the match official should never have been put in such a difficult position.
“For me, the decision should have been made the day before and it should have been club-led,” he said.
Torquay’s two previous home matches had been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and club officials, mindful they would have to reimburse Bury’s travel expenses if the game was not called off before a cut-off time, invited a local official to check the pitch on Friday morning.
But while areas of it were covered by standing water, the decision was deferred, despite heavy rain forecast for Friday and Saturday.
It is understood the Football League are clamping down on matches being called off prematurely, but Flitcroft believes the whole process needs to be re-examined.
“We delayed setting off until after the result of the Friday inspection and then endured a nightmare seven-and-a-half-hour journey down to Torquay in rush hour,” said Flitcroft.
“Everyone knew how bad the weather was supposed to be before we set off and it rained all Friday night after we got there.
“But I can’t fault the referee who, once we were all down there, did his best to get the match on.
“He did one of the most intense inspections of a pitch I have ever seen and then asked the ground staff what, if anything, they could do to improve conditions.
“They tried using sand and injecting sand pellets in the problem areas to soak up the water, but it continued to rain and by the second inspection it was clear the game couldn’t go ahead.
“My feeling is the decision has got to be made the day before and for me the Football League has got to look at this as an early decision could have saved Torquay and our fans a lot of money and inconvenience.”
All tickets bought for the original match will be valid for the rearranged fixture, the date of which is still to be announced.
It is understood Torquay will reimburse Bury fans the price of their ticket if they are unable to make the 220-mile trip to what will be a midweek match.