Saturday's League One fixture v Leyton Orient has been postponed due to a frozen pitch.
Rochdale Football Club constantly monitors the weather forecast throughout the season and particularly during the winter months, typically using the BBC forecast. This is checked against a couple of weather providers such as the Met Office or Accuweather. The Club is always looking to plan ahead, and in preparing for the next game, consideration is also given to the game following the next match with plans in place to action on the final whistle.
Ahead of our home game against Crawley Town on the 17th January 2015 the Rochdale frost covers were laid to cover the pitch and these collected the snow that fell in the week leading up to that game. A great deal of effort was put into clearing the snow off the pitch and covers by staff and volunteer supporters to ensure the match against Crawley Town went ahead. Match referee Trevor Kettle very complimentary about the hard work of staff and supporter volunteers to get the game on.
At the final whistle of the game against Crawley Town staff and volunteers battled the elements to get the pitch covers back in in preparation for the FA Cup match against Stoke City scheduled for Monday 26th January 2015. The week leading up to the Stoke City game was a mixture of snow and rain. The first part of the week was again snow and additional resources were hired to move the snow from the pitch and then from around the pitch to prevent flooding. The forecast of rain over the weekend prior to the Stoke City game materialised on the Sunday and this was kept of the pitch with the assistance of the FA Contractors, Sports & Stadia Services and their McLeod 'Dome' cover.
The forecast following the Stoke City game was for mainly rain with some sleet and naturally higher temperatures and consequently it was decided that the pitch would be left open, unfortunately the weather forecast wasn’t accurate and Rochdale experienced approximately 4 inches of snow on the morning of Thursday 29th January 2015. W
With the Spotland Stadium pitch completely covered in 4 inches of snow the temperatures were still reasonably high and there was a partial thaw during the day light hours on Friday 30th January 2015, however on Friday night, and since that time, we have experienced mainly minus degree temperatures during the night. If the temperatures have got above minus in the daytime these have only been low temperatures of around 2/3 degrees and not enough to get the frost out of the ground.
The Spotland pitch does get some sunshine on it at this time of year but not on the first third that runs the full length of the Main Stand. Even the area that does see the sun still has frost in the ground and temperatures are not high enough to get the thaw out of the ground.
Looking at the forecast, although these cannot be completely relied up on as the experience of last week and yesterday (Thursday) tells us - the BBC forecast was stating that the overnight temperature on Thursday would not fall below zero degrees and as we know the actual temperature was around -4 - we believed that the temperatures will not rise sufficiently to make the pitch playable by 3pm on Saturday.
Doing due diligence for our opponents as well as our own supporters we made a request to the Football League that a pitch inspection be arranged for Friday morning due to the Leyton Orient’s travel arrangements.
The pitch inspection was carried out on Friday morning by a National List referee who assessed the Spotland Stadium playing surface and deemed it to not be playable as it would not take a full stud, therefore constituted a danger to the players.
Consideration was given to the forecast over the next 24 hours or so, and if it had been felt that there was a reasonable chance of the surface being playable, a further pitch inspection could have been arranged for Saturday morning, however, we are sure that the situation would not improve sufficiently to warrant postponing the decision.
Unfortunately due to the sustained period of freezing temperatures, particularly overnight the frost has got deep in to the ground and will require a longer period of higher temperatures to thaw out.
We are all very disappointed to lose this game to the weather but believe we have taken all reasonable steps to prepare for the game. We would sincerely apologise for any inconvenience that this postponement may have been caused. A new date for the game will be announced in due course.