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Beat around the Bush

PUBLISHED: 15:16 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:51 24 August 2010

By Adam Boxer FOOTBALL traditionalists were once again dealt a blow as fixtures up and down the country fell foul of the weather conditions. Get your snow/no pun related jokes at the ready as Britain inevitably grinds to a halt owing to its age old conv

By Adam Boxer

FOOTBALL traditionalists were once again dealt a blow as fixtures up and down the country fell foul of the weather conditions.

Get your 'snow/no' pun related jokes at the ready as Britain inevitably grinds to a halt owing to its age old conversation starter - the weather.

Many have grown accustomed to the usual suspects falling by the wayside - primarily owing to a lack of under-soil heating - but there were surprise casualties in recent days.

Not in recent memory had there been so many high-profile cancellations - the majority, it seems, due to safety concerns for travelling supporters, and the conditions of surrounding roads.

It seems that decisions varied from council to council, with most petrified at the repercussions of a potential injury on their watch - coupled with the dwindling of gritting supplies.

'Safety' was the buzzword around the country, but you only had to look a mile or so along from Loftus Road to see the incredible inconsistency of decision making.

Westfield seemed relatively unaffected, with the local authority unflustered by the sizeable crowds that flood in and out of the popular shopping centre - all using the same roads, transport links and increasing footfall owing to the January sales.

Why then is it one rule for football supporters, and another for the general public? Even more perplexing when you consider the planning that goes into supporting your team while most shoppers depart on a whim.

The dangerous precedent is being set that football matches are called off for non-footballing reasons, and it's almost become the responsibility of the club to perform the council's duties and redress this balance.

Arsenal were at the centre of the controversy, with their evening clash against Bolton called off at 4pm - again the pitch was playable but the streets were deemed unsafe.

They then took matters into their own hands, getting out onto the streets to secure the safety of their weekend fixture against Everton, and go above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy football supporters and sponsors.

Football's finances will have taken a major hit and it remains to be seen how long the sponsors and key financial players sit back and allow this to continue.

TV coverage was decimated, along with the majority of Saturday's football calendar, and the major channels may put pressure on local authorities to deem fixtures playable.

Arsene Wenger's criticisms are well-founded, as a country guided by fear and insecurity continues to wreck the plans of many for the comfort and satisfaction of the few.

After all, the cancellation won't have been much comfort to Plymouth fans who shelled out on train tickets and accommodation for last weekend.


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