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Jan, 16, 2010

Portsmouth-Birmingham clash falls victim to weather

Portsmouth's Premier League home match against Birmingham, due to be played on Saturday afternoon, has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Fratton Park.

A pitch inspection took place at 1000 GMT on Saturday following heavy rain overnight and it was deemed that areas of the Fratton Park turf were not suitable for play, even if no further rainfall was to occur before the scheduled 1500 GMT kick-off.

The postponement will come as a big disappointment to the club after hundreds of fans were welcomed to to Fratton Park during the week to help remove snow on the pitch. Around 500 fans brought shovels and wheelbarrows and were given free tickets to the game as a mark of thanks for their efforts.

"The following four factors have been taken into account: the safety of the players, the safety of the match officials, if we start the game can we finish it, if we start will periods of the game descend into farce," match referee Anthony Taylor told the club's official website. "While every effort has been made by the club to ensure the game went ahead, the weather conditions were paramount in the decision. I have concluded that the conditions are not conducive for the game to go ahead."

The club's head of operations Lucius Peart said: "We called the officials in to inspect because there were a couple of areas of the pitch we were concerned about. There are several patches of water on the pitch which will not drain away. We've had very heavy rain here which has come on top of the meltwater from all the recent snow and ice.

"The pitch normally drains very well but it was hampered by what we believe to be frost deep in the pitch which is affecting the drainage system. We're really disappointed that we've had to postpone the game, especially after the magnificent effort by supporters on Wednesday to clear the stadium and its surrounds of snow and ice. But unfortunately the elements have beaten us."

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