Valley Parade

David Markhamin Football

Valley Parade

The weather thwarted Bradford City's hard working groundstaff on the second leg of their live TV sporting double at the weekend.

Bradford City were due to play Birmingham City in a First Division match on Sunday evening, but heavy rain forced the game to be called off 90 minutes before the scheduled 6.15pm kick off.

The day before Valley Parade had staged the Bradford Bulls-Leeds Rhinos Rugby League Challenge Cup tie, shown live on BBC TV, and the groundstaff worked hard to get the pitch ready for the Division One football match, also to be shown live on TV - ITV Digital.

The decision to call off the match cost Bradford City £60,000 in TV fees.

Stadium manager Allan Gilliver said: "Up to 3pm when the match referee arrived the pitch was playable, but it continued raining and then the heavens opened. We couldn't have finished the game even if we had started it.

"The pitch was playable on Saturday for the Rugby League even though conditions were not ideal.

"We were going to use the vertidrain after the rugby match, but the ground was too soft. We replaced the divots after the rugby, but the ground was also too soft to roll.

"We worked until 9.30pm on Saturday night and we were back at 8am on Sunday morning. As well as trying to get the pitch fit for play we also had groundstaff clearing the litter from the rugby match.

"We got the pitch ready for play and at 3pm when the referee arrived it was playable. He looked at the pitch every half hour after that, but there was no way we could play. By the time of the scheduled kick off the pitch was like a lake."

Bradford City managing director Shaun Harvey said the decision to call off the soccer match had nothing to do with the Bulls playing at Valley Parade the day before.

He told the Bradford Telegraph & Argus: "Whether the Bulls played on Saturday or not, it was the rain that came down after 1pm on what was already a saturated surface that caused the game to be called off. It wasn't connected with the Bulls at all.

When the referee came it had just started raining and at 3pm he passed the pitch fit to play. If we had have kicked off at the traditional time then I'm sure the game would have started and finished.

"Both managers really wanted to play in view of the congestion of fixtures, but the Met Off report was for more rain. It was very hard to see how they could have finished the game and guaranteed the players' safety.

"When managers Steve Bruce and Nicky Law were out there, the ball was beginning to stop travelling across the surface and it was getting more and more difficult."

The referee George Cain from Bootle said: "At first the pitch wasn't unplayable, but it was showing signs of concern. By 4.30pm the decision was taken out of my hands because there was no way the conditions were conducive to playing football."

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