FOOTBALL fans that had travelled to Lodge Road last night were left utterly ‘gutted’ when the FA Cup match was abandoned after the away team refused to play following technical issues at the stadium.
Supporters booed their own team after Dover refused to play the fixture at Yate Town after a failure of floodlights took 4 minutes longer to turn on than the deadline set.
Yate Town were due to meet Dover Athletic in the Fourth round qualifier at the South West Interiors stadium after drawing at Dover in the previous week.
During the pre-match warm up the referee noticed that two of the eight floodlights were not working.
Yate Town officials confirmed the failure and were granted a postponement of the match start time until 8.15pm, this was then further postponed to 9pm- with the agreement the floodlights all be in working order by 8.30pm.
In a statement Yate Town said a team of qualified electricians that were at the ground to watch the match, had diagnosed the problem and were attempting to repair the lights.
Yate Town confirmed that both teams, the referee and the FA agreed to delay kick off as late as possible.
The stadium was plunged into darkness at 8.15pm as the the engineers including YTFC facilities manager Bob Lomas, Jeff Michael and Shaun Base director at CL Electrics, disconnected the electrics to begin the necessary wiring.
At 8.30pm the referee, stood with the engineers, Yate Town manager and an official from Dover Athletic- said the game was to be postponed, however the facilities manager stated the lights were being switched on immediately but would take up to 30 seconds for the first in the sequence to be lit.
At 8.31pm the first two lights came back on to cheers from the 700 fans in the stadium and the referee left to seek agreement from the FA for the game to go ahead.
By 8.34pm all eight sets of lights were in full working order.
In their statement Yate Town said: “The FA confirmed, providing both teams were happy the game could go ahead. Yate were content to play, however Dover Athletic stated that it was past the 20:30 deadline and therefore they were not prepared to play.”
As the announcement was made at Lodge Road- both sets of supporters booed the decision.
Fan and match sponsor Dave Harris said he was gutted the came didn’t go ahead. “I brought people here for the George and Dragon to watch a game- they wouldn’t play because of a couple of minutes? its ridiculous.” he said.
Yate Town manager Paul Michael said: “It’s so disappointing. I’m angry, I’m upset but most of all I’m bemused.
“I apologise to all the supporters that tonight’s game didn’t go ahead and thank them so much for turning up in their numbers to support us, I only hope they are available for when it’s rescheduled and that we can win it for them.
“It is true that the referee gave us the deadline of getting the lights back on or the match would be postponed.
“Therefore he had already called the game off he could only give the clubs the option of playing the game, he couldn’t enforce the game to go ahead, as officially he had moments ago postponed it.
“We were of course ready to play, Dover declined and preferred to travel home and come back at another date.
Floodlight failures happen from time to time at all levels of football even the very top.
“It was amazing to see local people rallying around to help including someone going home to find parts and bring them back, that was amazing!
“I can’t thank those people enough, now for me that’s what football is about! Most of all I just can’t understand the not wanting to play.
“If just one of our supporters had travelled to Dover and the shoe was on the other foot, it wouldn’t have mattered if it was midnight and we were showered or back on the coach we would have a duty to that supporter to play the game and I wouldn’t have to ask our players they would have wanted to play. “
On Dover Athletics twitter they said: “We were out warming up for tonight’s Emirates FA Cup tie at Yate Town when the ref questioned why some of the floodlights were not working.
“We stood in the pouring rain for two hours while he set three deadlines, all of which were missed. The ref called the game off at 8.30pm.”
However, a spokesperson for the FA confirmed: “The FA instructed the match referee to offer Yate Town and Dover Athletic the opportunity to play after the 20:30 deadline on the condition that both clubs were in agreement.
“Both clubs did not agree to play the fixture after 20:30 and it has been re-scheduled for Tuesday 26 October at 19:45.”