After giving several what we considered to be very suitable alternative dates in regards to the rearranged game with Tranmere, originally due to be played on Saturday, 25th February, our League’s decision makers have stepped in and ordered us to play the game at Tranmere’s request in just seven days time, next Tuesday, 21st February, which is four days day prior to the original date.
We have tried to argue that as a part time club, seven days notice was simply insufficient for some of our part time players to secure the necessary time off work and it may lead to a weakened team being fielded but that was completely ignored.
Wood Chairman Danny Hunter said “We of course respect the decision and the fact that Tranmere strongly wanted this game to be played ASAP. However, to have it forced upon us by the League before the original match date had passed, at the behest of a big club, is alarming for a part time club like ours.
“Managers at the other title challenging clubs, I’m sure will not be happy, when they learn that many of our players have other day jobs and seven days notice for these players may mean they are unavailable which is ridiculous. It’s even more ridiculous, when the League rules state, that we have 42 days to reschedule the game and there were plenty of dates available for it to be played, with sufficient notice.
“It’s clear Tranmere want us at our weakest and want to play us when we are struggling to field a team. We will of course do our best to field as strong a side as possible, but we have 8 players in our squad who coach during the day, and we have other key players like goalkeeper Grant Smith, Kenny Davis, Joe Devera, Ben Nunn, skipper Mark Ricketts and our assistant manager Jason Goodliffe, who have other day jobs and with less than seven days notice, what does the league expect them or their employers to do?
Hunter went on “Lets be truthful, if we were in Tranmere’s position, perhaps we would try and push this game through for next Tuesday. But we feel we shouldn’t be put in this kind of situation by the League and it smacks of a big club bullying a smaller club. We felt that our leagues competition secretary and the Board would see our dilemma and see that fair play was not only done but seen to be done.
“I honestly expected our League to uphold our request to find a more suitable date with a more acceptable timeframe, as there were numerous more suitable dates available within the 42 day rearrangement rule.
“In my opinion and at the risk of repeating myself, 7 days notice, does not give our part time players or our supporters sufficient time to sort out dates or take holiday in regards to their day jobs. Plus if we cannot field our best team, how does that keep the integrity of the competition intact?
“We are now forced to play this game BEFORE the original date and we will now not be as competitive as we should be. That is unfair on the other title contenders like Dagenham and Redbridge, Lincoln City and Forest Green Rovers and it may now need to be addressed by the Board Chairman, who I will contact tomorrow.
“The facts are simple. We had no game scheduled for next Tuesday until today’s ruling. The original date was Saturday week on the 25th February. The new date given is just seven days away but the League rule is that we must play the game within 42 days of the original date, not 4 days BEFORE the original date.
“Our club viewpoint has been completely disregarded and we will now seek the opinion of a higher authority. Let’s be clear, if this game goes ahead, we might have to travel with only eight fit senior players next Tuesday, with eight academy boys including an academy goalkeeper and possibly with no senior goalkeeper or assistant manager, which is ludicrous.
That could well change if our part time boys can all get the time off work but that is still very unclear at the moment. It did make me chuckle though, that when we received the email from the League that they quoted a rule at us warning us that we would be in trouble if we were to field a weakened team. How does that even work, as we’ve been given just seven days notice to play the game and we are part time?”
“This is an entirely different situation to a scheduled midweek game or after a home Saturday cup tie, when we would have known in advance about the possibility of a midweek replay – there is no comparison with scheduled midweek games or cup replays and this game that has been forced upon us when there are several alternatives.”