DALE PITCH IN DOUBT - INSPECTION ON FRIDAY
Rochdale game back at Spotland?
IT now appears Mansfield Town's League Two clash against Rochdale will take place at Spotland after all this Saturday (3pm).
But referee Eddie Wolstenholme will visit the ground at noon on Friday to make a preliminary inspection of the playing surface.
Dale were furious with the state of their pitch after Rochdale Hornets Rugby League Club, with whom they share the ground, cut it up badly last weekend.
It is estimated it will take two weeks and up to £10,000 to restore the surface to normal.
Last night Rochdale announced they were hoping the Football League would give them permission to move the game - probably to nearby Oldham Athletic's Boundary Park.
However, Oldham refused to stage the game and the League also said they wouldn't allow a game to be moved unless it were a major disaster or serious structural problem.
A Rochdale spokesman told Chad: "Our groundsman will be working flat out to get the pitch ready.
"If the weather carries on as it is with a lot of wind and no rain it will help us get it dried out.
"It won't be perfect, but we will start the refurbishment work on it on Monday which will probably take a couple of weeks. Until then we have to hope on the weather and the groundsman."
DALE boss Steve Parkin has said his side will have to "play like Wimbledon" after the club's board accused Hornets of ruining the Spotland pitch.
The football club directors called Observer Sport to a board meeting on Monday evening to explain their fury, claiming their rugby counterparts had gone ahead with Sunday's Law Cup friendly fixture with Oldham against the advice of the groundsman.
But Hornets chief executive Paul Reynolds labelled the allegations "garbage" and turned the tables by stating the surface was ruined eight days earlier when Dale's home game against Grimsby Town was called off at half-time due to torrential rain.
Football officials were inquiring on Tuesday whether they could switch Saturday's match against Mansfield Town to Oldham Athletic's Boundary Park ground.
Dale chairman David Kilpatrick said: "Regardless of the weather this week, it looks like the game against Mansfield is in jeopardy. We are making representations to the Football League and Oldham Athletic to attempt to play the fixture away from Spotland.
"We are on the fringes of the play-offs and want to focus on pushing up the league. We can't expect players to even attempt to play on the Spotland pitch. The board is discussing options to take serious action."
Manager Parkin said: "I was as low as I've been as Rochdale manager when I arrived this morning (Monday). I just hope it's not done as much damage as it looks to have done - the pitch is obliterated.
"We are in a good position, with games in hand and just below the play-off places. It's going to be difficult now.
"Rochdale FC fans want to see their team win, but they also want to see some decent football. We have got decent players here, but we're going to have to play like Wimbledon now."
Reynolds hit back, claiming the damage had been done before Sunday's clash against the Roughyeds.
He said: "That is garbage. There was very little difference at the end of our match against Oldham than at the start. The cause of the damage to the pitch was Dale playing Grimsby last Saturday and abandoning the match in dreadful conditions.
"I had no contact with the groundsman on Friday. If he does some remedial work this week it will be fine for Saturday."
And he urged doubters to look at the match video to prove his point. "Rugby league doesn't do that to a pitch. It's played all over the field, not just in the central areas. All you need to do is watch the match video. What can't speak can't lie."
The Dale bosses have estimated £10,000 of work will have to be carried out to ensure the pitch is playable in the short term. The Sandy Lane end is of particular concern.
But Reynolds stuck to his guns and revealed he had asked chairman Councillor Allen Brett to organise a Spotland Stadium Company board meeting as soon as possible.
No Rochdale trip for Mansfield
Stags' game at Rochdale this Saturday (3pm) could be played at an alternative venue or postponed altogether due to the state of the Spotland pitch.
Rochdale share the pitch with the Rochdale Hornets Rugby League side and a match last weekend has cut the surface up so badly the football club say it could take up to two weeks and £10,000 to repair.
Dale Director Jim Fagan said: "We might have to change the venue of Saturday's game if we cannot repair the pitch in time after Hornets went ahead and played their game last Sunday.
"We've asked the Football League for permission to do so and are seeking an alternative venue at the moment because we don't want to face a fine from the League because we cannot play the game.
"We co-exist alongside the rugby club here at Spotland and we pay our rent and abide by the rules set out by the stadium company.
"All we ask is that there is a little respect show by both parties and that I'm afraid is not the case."
Dale groundsman Phil Collinson agreed that he would have preferred the game not to have taken place because it was still very wet and recovering from 45 minutes of football played on New Years Day, a game which was abandoned at half time."
Stags fans should keep an eye on the latest news on the game, which can be done on http://www.mansfieldtoday.co.uk.
Latest | January 2005