Did Chelsea fail to fulfil a fixture?

Stamford Bridge

In 1996, Middlesbrough were docked 3 points for failing to fulfil a fixture. The club postponed their fixture with Blackburn at “short notice” with Bryan Robson citing that an illness epidemic meant he wouldn’t have enough players to field a team.

The statement on the official Chelsea website read “Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge has been postponed following consultation with the Police and the local authority.”

There were suggestions online (mainly Twitter) that it was a “conspiracy” for Chelsea to get out of playing United with the two teams in their respective form, while it was clear yesterday that the game could have been played after the conditions improved. I don’t agree that it was a conspiracy – Chelsea may have lots of money but they can’t pay mother nature to unleash a torrent of snow from the sky – but surely the timing of the decision, and who exactly made the decision, must be questioned?

I’ve read opinions and heard opinions from supporters who suggested Blackpool shouldn’t have been allowed in the Premier League without undersoil heating. Again, I disagree, it’s the thing I always argue – there’s no point complaining only when it effects you. The rule is the rule, if you had a problem with it you would surely argue about it anyway. Not only when you’re directly effected. Undersoil heating as a pre-requisite for a promoted team is something that should be discussed alongside clubs having all-seater stadiums in order to be allowed to compete.

Obviously, however, there are circumstances so peculiar that they can only really be investigated on the merits of that particular case. The Premier League have declared themselves satisfied by the decision to postpone despite the fact that all the conditions in place were suitable to host the game. Travel situations, the surrounding area, everything was fine. It begs the question, how far in advance can a club postpone a fixture?

What if a team gets an important player suspended or with a knock, can they take a look at the weather forecast and if they see snow, see if they can back out?

I was in central London over the weekend and although it was easy to see there was no way the Arsenal game could be played, the subsiding of the snow around 3pm on Saturday – only around 2 hours after the postponement – lead most supporters to believe the game could still be played. There was no need to make such an early judgment, particularly as it turned out to be a flawed one. It’s not just the circumstances of the game (to be fair, it wouldn’t directly effect United to punish Chelsea, as the 3 points on offer would not be awarded to us even if the Blues were reprimanded) but that of the supporters; many had travelled to make a weekend of it, many were willing to travel with expensive train tickets that they can’t get a refund on.

I can understand there being a health and safety issue but I feel the game was called off too hastily. Chelsea easily could have asked for the decision to be reconsidered on the Sunday morning. This would have allowed them to work in partnership with the local council and the police to grit any pavements that were causing concern. This was something United did last year for the FA Cup tie against Leeds. Whilst the snow wasn’t as thick, the ice was definitely thicker and more of a danger. United worked hard to grit the surrounding areas with the council to make sure the game was not postponed and it went ahead. There was no reason as to why Chelsea could not do this too unless of course they were keen to avoid attempting to put the fixture on. Some good spy work by the team at The Republik of Mancunia discovered that the pavements were in fact fine – click here to see the CCTV pictures of the Stamford Bridge area on Sunday.

In my opinion – and that’s all it is – Chelsea failed to fulfil a fixture on Sunday. One can only imagine that if they were the form team sitting top of the league that they may have made more of an effort to get the game played. Middlesbrough were docked points after a retrospective investigation; with such overwhelming evidence to suggest the game could have gone ahead, the Premier League owe it to the integrity of their own rules to at least have a proper look at it.

9 Comments on Did Chelsea fail to fulfil a fixture?

  1. well what can i say…im a boro fan, and this should definately be looked at further…not that im bitter or anything!! But fair is fair!

  2. Whilst it’s disappointing, it was the right thing to do. Place is covered in snow, planes/trains/motorways all screwed – It saved a lot of people a lot of hassle by announcing it early. Heathrow is 10miles (as the crow flies) away and planes have been grounded for days now. I was on the M1 this weekend and everything was jammed – the M25 and M40 were far worse. Conspirise all you like, but Chelsea would have been under-pressure to state whether the game was on or off for the sake of TV and the ‘health and safety’ numpities and they played it safe (imagine if the game had gone ahead and there’d been a massive accident killing travelling fans…?). Also, why no mention of the fact that Wolves called their game off when I was in Birmingham this weekend without any snow….?? Pint of BITTER anyone?

  3. Can we please start talking about United on our sites? Please? All this stuff about the postponment – a correct decision at the time which proved questionable after the event – is making us look like paranoid idiots.
    Ok we had a good chance of taking at least a point from London, but are WE that scared of Chelsea that we are livid because we passed up an opportunity to play them when they are shoit?
    This sort of article are all over Reds sites this week and I am heartily sick of it. They are making us look like fools.

  4. Jehode, I don’t think anyone has claimed we’re scared – it’s been written about as it’s a hot topic. It’s a topic that is up for discussion in general, certainly with the way the weather is going there may be more games postponed or up for discussion.

    If you have no interest in discussing this matter then you don’t have to read this piece – I can re-direct you towards this piece that was also published today about Beckham if that is more to your taste – http://www.stretford-end.com/blog/2010/12/could-beckham-return-to-united/

    RE Chelsea, I think everyone is frustrated that the game didn’t go ahead despite the fact it seemingly could have done.

  5. Jehode, further to what was said in response – it’s also a discussion regarding the rules of the competition rather than sour grapes that it didn’t go ahead. The decision was taken at 1pm on Saturday but by 3pm that same day people were complaining.

  6. Second-guessing is very easy.

    I suspect just changing your mind on the Sunday morning when the resources have already been diverted elsewhere is significantly less easy in the current circumstances than people are allowing for.

  7. Bollocks. Game could have gone ahead. I was on north end road yesterday spitting distance from the ground n it was fine. Only the police n the fa can make such a call n according to a police spoesman the decision was made by the club not the police or fa. Fucking rentboys

  8. Shak – there’s no denying the game could have gone ahead as the pitch and surrounding areas were okay. However, several roads (M25, M40, M1) were all but closed. Heathrow is still suffering and Uxbridge had over a foot of snow. To avoid fans travelling in advance etc., they made the call. I’m sure they wish they hadn’t but it was the least worst option~ imagine they game had gone ahead but travelling fans had had accidents etc getting to the match! Chelsea were in a lose lose situation and they chose the safe option. I love how you quote a ‘spokesman’. Are these the same ‘spokesmen’ that are always close to a player when the tabloids want to make up a transfer story????

  9. I think were looking at this from the United perspective of we could have gone there and walked away with one set of the red and white ribbons firmly back on the Premier League trophy.

    Chelsea shouldnt have any points docked. The referred making the decision firmly in the hands of the Police and Highways Authority. THEY advised that the game would be difficult for fans to get to and advised the Premier League to pospone the game. Chelsea did not make any decision in this.

    If United fans had travelled down their and hour before k.o the postponement was announced, we would be complaining about that.

    Lets win the title by getting more points than Chelsea not by Chelsea having points deducted for weather out of their control

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