Local football clubs are being asked to consider postponing their festive fixtures today and Scott Young’s Christmas spirit is disappearing faster than the snow around us.
The Irish Football Association have invited clubs to make a decision on Monday’s matches going ahead or not this afternoon — FOUR days before the long-awaited seasonal showdowns are scheduled to kick-off.
Fans, players and managers look forward to the well attended derby scraps from the beginning of the season but now the big freeze threatens to have the last word. The IFA have asked clubs to examine conditions inside and outside stadiums and make a judgement after consulting with the PSNI and health and safety chiefs.
Given that the sub-zero temperatures are persisting all the matches could be postponed, with the exception of the north-Belfast derby between Cliftonville and Crusaders at Solitude. The Reds’ new 3G playing surface is more resistant to the freezing temperatures but, as conditions around the ground may remain treacherous, a question mark remains.
Cliftonville will not make a final decision on their match going ahead until Monday morning.
The Big Two Boxing Day battles are legendary and even though this year’s games are scheduled for December 27, Glentoran boss Young was relishing his first festive derby showdown since succeeding Alan McDonald in March.
Glentoran — who would consider playing the game on Tuesday — could leapfrog Linfield at the top of the Carling Premiership if they claim the local bragging rights on Monday but it now appears certain the game will fall foul to the snow and icy conditions and that’s cold comfort for Young.
“I think it’s wrong and unfair to call a game off four days beforehand,” said Young. “I think it would be a silly decision, a joke decision really. I can understand where the IFA are coming from as the games attract big crowds but there is heavy rain forecast for Sunday and the picture can change dramatically.
“We are happy to play the game on Tuesday, but I don’t see why the Windsor Park pitch can’t be inspected on Sunday and a decision taken then. If this game is called off today I’ll find the decision a shocking one. I don’t make these decisions but I feel sorry for the fans because I know how much this game means to them.
“This is a massive fixture for both clubs and our fans are already recovering from the shock of health and safety chiefs putting a 7,500 crowd limit on the game.”
Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor, who will be praying for a thaw in north Belfast, said: “Just to clear up any confusion regarding what the IFA are asking of clubs — nobody is being forced to make a final decision one way or the other today. If there’s a ground which is in so bad a state that it definitely won’t recover by Monday, then it makes sense to come to an early decision.”