Livingston v Aberdeen: Referee "cleverly" consulted players over call-off as 'tarmac' explanation given for pitch

Referee Steven McLean says he left it down to the players after Livingston’s clash with Aberdeen was postponed for the second time in a fortnight.

Ground staff sweep rain off the pitch before the postponed Scottish Premiership match between Livingston and Aberdeen at the Tony Macaroni Arena (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Ground staff sweep rain off the pitch before the postponed Scottish Premiership match between Livingston and Aberdeen at the Tony Macaroni Arena (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

It was an even later victim of the weather this time around – McLean was still inspecting the waterlogged pitch when the match was meant to kick-off at 7.45pm. Players had already notified him that the pitch had become dangerous after heavy rain and sleet started falling at about 6pm.

“We arrived at the ground two hours before kick-off and as normal did a pitch inspection,” said McLean. “At that point it was playable.

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“The weather conditions then deteriorated and during the warm-up players from both sides reported that they felt the pitch was unsafe and they had problems with their footing.”

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes backed the players’ opinion and said he attached no blame on Livingston for another late postponement – the previous time saw the match called off just over an hour-and-a-half before kick-off.

“It looks dangerous, the amount of water on the pitch is unusual,” said McInnes. “There’s no blame on Livingston here. The only debate we had is whether we started the game but the forecast was to remain like that all night.

“I think the referee, quite cleverly, has gone round the senior players, ones that he’s known for a long time, and asked their opinions,” he added. “Managers can influence these things and we’re all keen to get the game moving.

“But the players expressed concerns. The referee asked the players if the players thought the pitch was unsafe and dangerous and the consensus was that it was.”

McInnes suggested the twice-postponed game could be played at the end of this month, on the weekend left free by the decision to postpone the Scottish Cup.

Livingston manager Dave Martindale, who had been eyeing a ninth successive victory since taking over from Gary Holt, was honest about his reasons for wanting the game played – one of Aberdeen’s danger men would have been suspended.

“We were desperate to get the game on and, to be honest, Aberdeen have one of their best creative players out, Ryan Hedges. We wanted it played.”

However, he said he understood the referee’s reasons – given some players also expressed worries. “I think Aberdeen players had concerns but the majority of Livingston players were sitting saying they wanted to try and get the game played. Livingston players have got the benefit of playing on this pitch and training on it too when it’s been similar. Aberdeen haven’t got that but I understand all parties.”

Livingston’s all-weather pitch has not lived up to its name in recent weeks. Ice caused this game to be postponed on December 30 and rain/sleet on this occasion. Martindale sought to give an explanation.

“What you’ve got under the park is basically a road made of tarmac and asphalt which is porous,” he said. “There’s thousands of small holes and it’s easy for it to get frozen and that’s what the rain’s got to get through to drain. I’m assuming there are still parts of the tarmac frozen but I don’t know.”

Livingston now have back-to-back fixtures against Celtic coming up next as they seek to continue their remarkable run of form – Aberdeen head to Ross County on Saturday.

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