Fans will be no stranger to postponed matches this season as COVID-19 ripped through squads throughout the Football League over the festive period, but Bournemouth’s clash with Nottingham Forest was called off just four hours before kick-off for a very different reason.
The Cherries were due to play host to Forest at the Vitality Stadium on Friday night, only for Bournemouth to postpone the game due to damage at the stadium just hours before kick off.
Tonight’s game against Nottingham Forest has been postponed for safety reasons following damage to Vitality Stadium caused by Storm Eunice.
— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) February 18, 2022
Structural engineers have carried out an inspection of the stadium and have confirmed that the damage could pose a significant risk to supporters’ safety.
In an official statement, the Cherries said:
The ongoing impact of the storm means the damage cannot be repaired in time either to fulfil the fixture on Friday, or at a re-arranged time on Saturday.
The postponement was recommended by the club’s Safety Advisory Group.
And while that seems very regulation, a quick glance to the injury list of the Cherries raises questions. Scott Parker’s side were without 8 players amid an injury crisis, and given the importance of the tie to both sides, with potential promotion on the line, dots are being connected.
The situation left Forest frustrated, not least because of the lack of governing body to adjudicate on the situation.
‘There was no EFL representative inside the stadium to make an informed decision’, a source told SportsMail. ‘A few signs fell on the ground inside the stadium and the engineer said they were unable to get a cherry picker into the stadium until Monday.’
‘Forest were willing to play the game up until 2pm on Saturday, but Bournemouth declined the offer’, they added.
That was contested by some reports, which suggested that no such offer had been made.
Told there’s damage to all #AFCB stands in different measures. Some internal, so genuine risk to supporter safety. Decision delayed by safety inspection. Structural review now needed. Never any prospect of playing tomorrow. Cherries did not turn down option to play. @BBCSouthNews
— Lewis Coombes (@LewisCoombes) February 18, 2022
Southend’s game with Grimsby in the National League was also called off for bad weather, but an hour after the proposed re-arranged time, Southampton kicked off barely 30 miles down the road.
And the Nottingham forest fans smelled a rat.
Is there any pictures of the damage at @afcbournemouth which validates the postponement? I’m sure the Cherries will be keen to share them if there are to save them being accused of getting the game called off cos 7 players injured.
Surely the pics would help us #NFFC understand
— Paul 🏳️🌈 (@PaulMancs) February 18, 2022
Bournemouth have 7 players out, wonder why they declined playing the game tomorrow…
— ___ (@ElliottLane7) February 18, 2022
Bournemouth have 7 injuries and a suspension for one of their best players. I think we know where this is going.
— Steve Stone’s Mullet (@RedDogCam) February 17, 2022
Speaks volumes that Bournemouth as a club haven’t come out and offered to compensate #NFFC away fans for the late decision to call it off .. specially considering it was offered to play the game today and they refused
Really poor show from #afcb
— Carl wilkinson🔴⚪ (@CarlosNFFC) February 19, 2022
Bournemouth refusing to play tomorrow should go down as a forfeit, then. Nice 3-0 win for #nffc, and maybe a little points deduction for the soft southern dafties. You know it makes sense @EFL t.co/DyvA9MXiP6
— Tom Head (@WiggumCharm) February 18, 2022
Translation, Bournemouth won’t agree to play it tomorrow because thinking about it, they’re missing seven top players.
— Lee Clarke (@Clarkey_No1) February 18, 2022
Shocking it took the EFL & Bournemouth this long to call the game off, think of all the fans travelling down … honestly can’t believe that. Convenient for Bournemouth to reject the offer to play tomorrow as well 🤔 #nffc
— Max Hayes (@MaxdHayes) February 18, 2022
And while it is all well and good to reschedule the game, many fans were well into their journey when the belated announcement came, following the winds of storm Eunice. For thousands, it was a Friday night ruined. especially given that they themselves had battled through the storm to make the clash.
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