Frustrated Dundee boss James McPake says referee David Munro made the wrong call in deeming the pitch unplayable for their Championship clash with Ayr United.
Confusion reigned at Dens Park after a morning pitch inspection from a locally-based official following heavy rainfall overnight had deemed the surface fit for action.
That lasted until around 1pm when match official Munro arrived and called the game off due to “surface water” despite little rain having fallen in between inspections.
By this point Ayr had arrived at the ground and were keen to play according to the Dens boss.
The Dark Blues then asked for a delayed kick-off so their groundstaff could work on the pitch. However, that request was rejected.
A Dundee statement later described the situation as “a fiasco”.
McPake said: “I’m really frustrated.
“There were two managers and two sets of players desperate to get the game on.
“My real thing is that at 10.30am this pitch was deemed playable. That person had direct communication with the referee who was coming to do the game.
“It didn’t really rain since 10.30 so why there was no question of whether there was surface water on the pitch?”
Today’s match against Ayr United has been postponed.
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) January 16, 2021
He added: “In my opinion it was a lack of understanding.
“We asked for an extra hour for our groundstaff to work on it.
“You will see the pictures and it looks terrible down there but that’s the guys having gone out with the tractor to work on it for the next couple of weeks once they knew it was off.
“That wouldn’t have been done if the game was on.
“Our players have been out training on it so it can’t be that dangerous. They aren’t on the muddy bit, of course, because the groundsmen would go off their heads.
“Ayr were willing to wait. What would have been wrong with starting the game and, if it is dangerous, stopping it? We don’t have to wait for fans.
“There are games getting called off left, right and centre in Scotland right now. If this was a Covid reason my answers would be completely different, of course. That’s a serious issue.
“What we’re talking here is a puddle on a pitch basically. Today’s game should have went ahead.
“I just don’t think it looks great for the league. We’ve had games on this pitch recently and it was worse.”
Match official Munro gave his reasons for the call off to the media, saying: “I arrived at the stadium around 1pm with my assistants and we carried out our usual pitch inspections like we do for any match.
“We quickly identified there was going to be an issue due to water lying on the pitch.
“We went out with a ball and carried out a more extensive inspection and it was clear at that point there was water lying in several areas.
The main concern was in front of the technical areas but there was also an area in the 18-yard-box near the tunnel.
“When we ran on it, it was clear the pitch was waterlogged and was a danger to the players. At that point I communicated to the Dundee manager and Ayr assistant manager the game was postponed due to player safety.”
Asked whether a delayed kick-off would have made a difference, Munro replied: “That was perhaps discussed but in my opinion the situation wouldn’t have improved significantly enough to do that.”
And on the 10.30am inspection that deemed the pitch playable, the official said: “It’s very hard for me to comment on the inspection that happened at 10.30am with me not being here for that.
“All I can base my decision on was the state of the pitch when I arrived. It was clear to me and my assistants it was unplayable.
“I can understand everyone’s frustrations. We all wanted the match on but we have to consider player safety being paramount.”
Dundee statement ‘fiasco’
A Dundee statement called the decision a “fiasco”, saying: “Today’s Scottish Championship fixture against Ayr United has been postponed.
“After torrential rain overnight the club requested a pitch inspection at 10.30am this morning due to the distance required for Ayr to travel.
“With no rain forecast the pitch was deemed playable by an SFA appointed referee after consultation by phone with the match referee.
“Both sides had arrived at the Kilmac Stadium when match referee David Munro and his assistants checked the pitch and deemed one small section as unplayable and called the match off.
“With both clubs asking for the match to be played we discussed the matter further with the league to request a delayed kick off and asked the referee for a short period of time for the ground staff to work on the pitch but this was refused.
“Ultimately the referee’s hastily reached decision stood.
“The club intends to raise this fiasco with the SPFL and SFA.”