Town owner’s fury at late fixture switch

Scarborough Athletic hosted Ossett Albion last weekend, and will now play Ossett Town this Saturday.
Scarborough Athletic hosted Ossett Albion last weekend, and will now play Ossett Town this Saturday.

Furious Bridlington Town chairman Peter Smurthwaite has accused league officials of a lack of respect after his team were effectively booted off their own pitch.

The Seasiders have been forced to cancel this Saturday’s match against Parkgate to allow tenants Scarborough Athletic to play a rearranged league game.

Smurthwaite said the club were given less than a week’s notice about the fixture switch, which has been made worse by the fact next Wednesday’s home game against Maltby Main has also been called off, because the visitors are playing in the Sheffield and Hallamshire Cup, which takes priority.

The weekend’s league game cannot be switched to Parkgate, because Bridlington have already played their away match against the South yorkshire side earlier in the season.

In a statement, Smurthwaite said he may have to ‘assess with the ground-sharing arrangement’ with Scarborough, who he believes could have done more to fight the changes.

Smirthwaite said: “I received a text on Sunday - did I know we would have to cancel our league fixture on Saturday at Queensgate against Parkgate because the Evo-Stik League had arranged for Scarborough Athletic to play Ossett Town on the same day at our ground?

“I then made various telephone calls to find out why our game was cancelled and was informed due to other club’s commitments in the FA Cup, the Evo-Stik league had arranged for Scarborough to play this game.

“I am of course aware that, as the team in the higher league, Scarborough have priority over fixtures but the game against Ossett Town had already been scheduled for another date during the season, so there was no need to re-schedule this fixture at such short notice.

“The most annoying aspect of this change us the total lack of respect shown to me personally and my football club. No prior discussion had taken place with ourselves or even with the Northern Counties East League with regard to cancelling our fixture which had been scheduled since the start of the season.

“We did not even receive notification from Scarborough Athletic, even though they had been informed last Thursday of the change, they did not contact us until Sunday and so far as I can see have not made much of an attempt to convince the Evo-Stik League not to proceed with this fixture.

“I cannot believe the Evo-Stik League did not have the courtesy to speak to us or our league.

“My worry is does this set a precedent for future fixtures when I am told who can play on my ground and when.

“I have already given way this season on our chosen midweek night, which we requested Tuesdays to our league, but I was then asked to move the midweek games to Wednesday to help both the Evo-Stik and the NCEL arrange fixtures.

“I was not happy about it because my players train on a Thursday evening at a pre-booked venue which cannot be cancelled.

“In view of the above, I now need to assess with the ground-sharing arrangement unless there is a more regulated approach to the fixture arrangements.

“I have already had problems with our own league drawing up a sensible schedule of fixtures rather than eight out of 10 fixtures at home in October, which we did amend ,but now this throws the fixtures into disarray again.

“This situation is also very unfair on our opponents this weekend, Parkgate, who may now have to travel to us on a midweek night and indeed have complained about the very short notice of the cancellation of the game.

“I have also heard comments in the recent past ‘if it was not for the money I receive from Scarborough, Bridlington Town would have gone bankrupt’.

“I can assure everyone of that opinion that my personal financial support and my business acumen have kept this club going, which was in a difficult position when I took over, but has no financial problems at present.

“For that reason I should not be bullied over fixture changes and be treated more respectfully.”