Belfast Telegraph

Anger as early call-offs threaten £150,000 loss

By Stuart McKinley

Glentoran chairman Aubry Ralph fears that his club and their Belfast rivals Linfield could lose more than just cash after their annual festive clash was wiped out.

Carling Premiership clubs are set to lose out on their biggest pay- day of the season, with three of Monday’s post-Christmas derby fixtures already postponed.

And, if the remaining three are also cancelled, it will cost clubs some £150,000 between them.

The showpiece junior football decider, the Paddy Power Steel and Sons Cup final scheduled for Seaview tomorrow, was also called off because of the deep freeze.

Ralph claims that yesterday’s decision to postpone the Big Two battle as well as the Ballymena United v Coleraine and Lisburn Distillery v Donegal Celtic games, was made too early and that a weekend thaw could leave clubs looking stupid.

Linfield will be the biggest losers, with a bumper gate of over 7,000 expected at Windsor Park, bringing in a return of some £50,000. Ballymena United, Cliftonville and Portadown would expect around £25,000 in profit from their home derby games.

“We’re disappointed that the game isn’t going to be played,” Ralph said.

“The forecast looks positive and there might be a bit of a thaw by Monday. I’d have given the game every chance because we don’t want to look stupid. I didn’t see the need to make a decision on games by Thursday when you can’t be certain what the weather is going to be like over the next three or four days and I fear that we could get slaughtered if the pitch at Windsor Park is playable on Monday. Ulster Rugby are still hoping that their game on Monday will go-ahead and if they play I don’t see why we couldn’t.”

However, Linfield chairman Jim Kerr feels the early postponement was the right call.

“I have been critical of the Irish FA but in this situation I feel common sense has prevailed,” he said.

“When you have 80 to 100 security people, police, caterers and anyone else with a franchise at the ground, it takes time to prepare for a big game and this is the right call. 1,000 tickets remained unsold as fans felt there was little prospect of the game going ahead.”

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