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Premier League to quiz Fulham

last updated Sunday 11th January 2009, 11:22 AM
Rob StylesThe Premier League are to investigate why the pitch-heating systems at Craven Cottage and Fratton Park failed to prevent both Fulham's game against Blackburn and Portsmouth's against Manchester City being postponed on Saturday.

While the weather conditions were exceptional, Premier League clubs are required to have undersoil heating, or another system of pitch protection that has been approved by the Premier League board. If either club are found to have failed to have done enough to stage their games, the Premier League could impose a fine.

"We will certainly be asking the clubs concerned, and the match officials, to give their accounts of what happened," said a Premier League spokesman. "If it was found that inadequate precaution was taken then it would be referred to the Premier League board.

"We stipulate that clubs should be able to stage games when the temperature drops to -3C.

"Portsmouth have been in touch with us all week about the extreme temperatures they have been getting and they worked hard to try and get the game on. However, we will still be asking about what efforts were made."

Portsmouth's game with City was postponed after Mike Dean's 9am pitch inspection. With the temperature dropping to -7C overnight, frost had got into the surface.

"We've had heaters on the pitch for most of the week but unfortunately some frost got in down the middle of the pitch and that's where the problem is," said Peter Storrie, the Portsmouth chief executive. "We wanted the game on today because we've got key players back and they've got key players missing."

The Fulham game was called off much later, after a pitch inspection at 1.15pm by referee Rob Styles. He said "98 per cent" of the pitch was playable but there were small patches that represented a "clear danger" to the players.

Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn manager, agreed that the pitch was dangerous but said: "We're extremely disappointed. We were on the coach about 15 minutes away when we heard."

Rescheduling the games will prove tricky, especially the Portsmouth game as they are already playing catch-up after their FA Cup third-round tie against Bristol City was postponed, while Manchester City's Uefa Cup commitments further clutter the schedule.

Source Daily Telegraph
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