Corsham Town: Whilst we appreciate the frustrations of the supporters and the general public, we would like to make it very clear that we as a club did everything we were asked of The FA and not once was our intention to waste anybody’s times

Sunday 22nd January 2023

CORSHAM TOWN officials insist it was not their intention to waste anybody's times and that they did everything that was asked off them by The Football Association - and are looking forward to welcoming Deal Town for a third time next Saturday.

Deal Town’s FA Vase Fourth Round tie at Southbank has twice been postponed by the match referee with players and fans' making two wasted journeys.

A waterlogged pitch ensured the original fixture (14 January) was called off and the match referee called yesterday’s game off 55 minutes before the scheduled kick-off due to a frozen pitch.

Deal Town chair Natalie Benville insisted yesterday that “we’ve been here twice now and there’s no way we’re going to be travelling another 200 miles to get here next week and a possibility for it being called off.”

Benville – who is also non-executive director at The Kent Football Association – requested a seven o’clock pitch inspection yesterday morning as the team bus was departing the Charles Sports Ground in Deal at 07:45.

However, the Hellenic League Premier Division Wiltshire-based club have this morning issued a 577 word statement on yesterday’s events.

“We were contacted by The FA on Wednesday and were advised that we would need to conduct a pitch inspection by a Level 4 or above referee on Friday at 3pm to determine whether the pitch would be fit to play. This was scheduled earlier than usual to factor in the travel time for Deal Town and their supporters and was also done based on the forecast being similar for the 24 hours after. This pitch inspection was conducted and the pitch was deemed fit to play.

“On Saturday morning, we had a large group of volunteers at the football club to begin the preparation for the match day. As the morning went on, the initial surface frost had cleared and the sun was trying to break through the clouds as it did do on Friday morning. At just after 2pm the referee turned up and the fog began to worsen, he then conducted a pitch inspection and made the decision to call the game off due to player safety.

“Shortly after the game was postponed, we issued refunds to all supporters that had paid to get in.

“Whilst we appreciate the frustrations of the supporters and the general public, we would like to make it very clear that we as a club did everything we were asked of The FA and not once was our intention to waste anybody’s times.

“We as a club have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to ensure that this fixture would be a success and feel let down to read some of the comments made towards us.

“We would like to place on record a special thanks to the Deal Town committee, their treasurer Danielle Johnson and the majority of supporters that were understanding of the situation and polite and respectful to our teams, it did and does not go unnoticed.

“One thing that we can take some responsibility for was not posting on our Social Media channels to confirm the game was postponed, as we run off a small group of people, the individual responsible for posting was also the individual stood issuing refunds to supporters.

“We as a club can tolerate some bad press from time to time because that is part and parcel of what we do. However, one thing we do not tolerate is abuse directed at any of our volunteers.

“There were also lots of questions regarding the rearranged fixture. Following a discussion with the FA Competitions Team on Friday and as per the rules of the FA Vase, the home club will have the opportunity to get the game played three times prior to the fixture being assessed by the National Game Board. The National Game Board would then decide where the fixture would need to be played. From speaking with The FA, it is our understanding that weather and natural causes would of course be taken in to consideration prior to changing the fixture location.

“To be absolutely clear in what we are saying, we have done everything that we were asked of The Football Association and the decision to call the game off will and will always sit with the match referee, not the home club..."

The statement concluded: "
We look forward to welcoming supporters back to the Southbank next Saturday.”

Devon-based side Brixham AFC will travel to the winner in the Last 16 of The FA Vase, scheduled for Saturday 14 February.

The fourth-placed South West Peninsula League Premier Division East outfit took advantage of playing at home by beating Raynes Park Vale 2-0 yesterday.