Bristol Rovers ask the Football League to investigate Wycombe call-off
BRISTOL Rovers have asked the Football League to go on a fact-finding mission in an effort to receive clarification on the exact reasons why their game with Wycombe Wanderers was abandoned last weekend.
Rovers were leading 3-1 with 23 minutes left to play when the game was brought to a premature conclusion by the referee on the advice of Wycombe safety officer following a torrential downpour and claims that lightning had struck the back of the stand.
Chairman Nick Higgs, pictured, confirmed yesterday that a letter of complaint had been sent to the Football League regarding the issue, although the details of the correspondence remain private.
Earlier this week, Higgs said he believed Rovers would have little choice but to accept the result would remain null and void and The Post understands no request for the result to stand has been made in the letter.
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Instead, Rovers are only to seek clarity on a number of issues surrounding the incident and have concerns about the ambiguous nature of the reasons given for the decision to abandon the game – the second to be cut short at Adams Park after an FA Cup tie against Oxford City was abandoned because of a small fire at the back of the stand almost 13 years ago.
The Football League, meanwhile, would neither confirm or deny they had received the letter from Rovers requesting them to investigate the matter, but a spokesperson did say: "On the day a game is abandoned it is a decision that is down to the referee.
"In terms of retrospectively looking at an abandonment, the principle we usually apply is that a result should only stand after 90 minutes has been played. That rule, however, can be open to change in certain extenuating circumstances."
Only a handful of games throughout history, however, have been deemed to have circumstance extenuating enough for the result to stand following an abandonment – the most infamous being the game played at Valley Parade between Bradford City and Lincoln City in 1985 at which a fire in one of the stands claimed the lives of 56 supporters.
In a famous Manchester derby in 1974, which saw United relegated by a 1-0 defeat to City, the result was allowed to stand despite the game having to be abandoned five minutes before the end due to a pitch invasion.
The most recent match where the result was allowed to stand came in 2002 following a game that was dubbed the 'Battle of Bramall Lane' after Sheffield United had three players sent off against West Browmwich Albion.
A further two players went off injured, leaving the referee with no option but to bring the game to a close in the 82nd minute with West Brom leading 3-0.
Sheffield United were subsequently fined and West Brom were awarded the result without the need for a rearranged game.
Rule 28 in section five of the Football League handbook does not list the exact circumstance in which the result of an abandoned game should be allowed to stand, so the likelihood is that Rovers will only receive a refund of their travel costs, believed to be in the region of £1,500, out of the gate receipts from the rearranged game by way of compensation for last weekend's events.
Rovers boss Mark McGhee, meanwhile, will send his side out against Morecambe at the Memorial Stadium tomorrow looking to make up for the disappointments of last weekend by securing their first victory of the season.
"I understood that there was no way I was going to change the decision to abandon the game, so all I could do was to accentuate the positives that came out of it," said McGhee.
"Those were that we played ever so well and that we scored three fantastic goals. I think that the performance has given the squad a certain confidence. They've certainly all had a bit of a spring in their step at training this week."