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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 12, 2007

Blues could face action as Leeds game is KO'd

The Football League will investigate the circumstances which forced Birmingham to postpone their Championship clash with Leeds tomorrow after problems with the new St Andrews pitch.

Birmingham managing director Karren Brady revealed the club must lay another new pitch after adverse weather conditions rendered the recently-installed surface unplayable.

The club have postponed tomorrow's match after a pitch inspection - at which League officials were present - due to 'the safety and condition of the newly-laid turf' at St Andrews.

And the Football League said in a statement on their website stated they had 'acceded to an official request from Birmingham City to postpone the club's Championship match with Leeds United tomorrow'.

It continued: 'A re-scheduled date for this fixture will be announced shortly following consultation with both clubs. The Football League can also confirm that it intends to investigate the circumstances that led to the match being postponed.'

The surface was dug up and replaced after last weekend's FA Cup clash with Newcastle but concern had been voiced that it would not be ready in time for the meeting with Dennis Wise's side.

A statement on the club's website said: 'Following discussions this morning with the Football League's official turf expert, Steve Baker, the match referee Rob Styles and PGMO referees manager Jim Ashworth, the club has conceded that our game against Leeds should not go ahead due to the safety and condition of the newly-laid turf.

'On this basis the club has no option but to request to the Football League that our Championship fixture this Saturday versus Leeds United is postponed.

'Whilst it is possible for the turf to be laid and prepared in time for the game on Saturday, the pitch inspection this morning has determined that the surface would remain unplayable due to the unexpected atrocious weather conditions already experienced.'

Brady revealed the pitch will have to be relaid yet again: 'Due to the club's extensive efforts since Tuesday/Wednesday's freak rainfall to get the game on in the face of adversity, all the areas of turf we have just laid will now have to be dug up and a new pitch sought due to the present saturated conditions.'

The laying of the new £120,000 pitch, which was the `spare' one for the new Wembley Stadium, has been hampered by adverse weather conditions in recent weeks.

The club were going to relay the pitch in Christmas week, but because of freezing temperatures they were forced to reschedule to this week.

But heavy rainfall has hampered preparations and the club even called in an agronomist (soil management expert).

This is the first time a senior game in English football has been postponed due to a newly-laid pitch not being ready.

The consequences for the Blues could be serious. They may face a charge of failing to fulfil a fixture and a disciplinary commission could hand out a fine or even impose a points deduction.

City's need to relay their pitch was emphasised when star striker Nicklas Bendtner suffered an ankle injury after catching it in a divot during the cup tie with Newcastle which ended in a 2-2 draw. The on-loan Arsenal player will be sidelined for around a month.