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Dec 21, 2009

Weather forces postponement of Wigan-Bolton game

Wigan Athletic's home game with Bolton Wanderers on Monday night has been postponed with icy conditions in the north west making the areas around the stadium unsafe for supporters.

Although the DW Stadium pitch was playable due to the club's undersoil heating, the snow which has hit the area over the weekend coupled with the freezing temperatures mean the roads and pavements are too dangerous to negotiate.

"Following a thorough inspection, it was felt that the areas around the stadium, despite the best efforts of Wigan Athletic and Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council, are deemed not safe for the public," read a club statement.

"The Police and Met Office have issued severe weather warnings for the rest of the day, and are advising essential journeys only should be carried out. The club is duty bound to abide by this advice. The club wishes to apologise to all its supporters, and to the supporters of Bolton Wanderers, but their safety is of paramount importance."

Despite widespread gritting of the roads around the stadium, conditions have failed to improve and Wigan have further outlined their concern at the "steep gradients" of some car parks as well as the dangerous condition of the car park for disabled supporters.

The club also stated that they could not guarantee the safe arrival of the safety stewards due to be in attendance at the game.

With Bolton in the relegation zone and Wigan just two points ahead of them in the table the match was set to be a crucial one for both sides. The Trotters could have climbed out of the relegation zone, and up to 12th, with a victory while Wigan could also have moved up four places to the same position.

Wigan officials were keen to point out that safety issues alone - and not the state of the pitch or ground itself - forced their hand.

"The club stress that every effort has been made to ensure the game could go ahead,'' added the statement.

"The DW Stadium pitch and the stadium itself are in perfect condition after the ground staff and stadium staff worked throughout the weekend, with the undersoil heating being switched on for the last 48 hours and the pitch being covered to protect against the snow and ice.

"The club and Wigan Metro also undertook extensive gritting on the roads directly around the stadium, much of this at the club's own expense. However, these areas are actually equally as precarious as the untreated areas due to the freezing conditions last night and today.

"With a mile of private roads and 10 acres of car parks to maintain, much of which are still under ice, and with weather forecasts predicting a temperature drop to minus six degrees tonight, the collective decision between the club and the police has unfortunately been made to postpone the match.

"Several of the DW Stadium car parks have steep gradients which, despite extensive gritting, cannot be made safe. Also, to comply with Premier League regulations, the club require a certain number of safety stewards to be in attendance at matches.

"With the roads around the region being so hazardous the club could not guarantee that all the staff will be able to arrive safely prior to the kick-off.''

All tickets remain valid for the rearranged fixture, when a date is announced, but refunds are available from the ticket office.

Wigan have published a number of pictures on their official site showing the desperate state of the roads and footpaths. Those pictures can be seen here.

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