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Apr 2, 2011

Celtic game rained off

Saturday's SPL fixture between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Celtic has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, the Glasgow club have announced.

• Blog: The league is Celtic's to lose

After heavy overnight rain, the pitch at the Caledonian Stadium failed to pass an inspection at 0930 BST so the Scottish top flight's morning kick-off will not go ahead.

A club statement read: "Celtic's SPL match with Inverness Caley Thistle has been called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

"The game was scheduled for a 12 noon kick-off today, Saturday, April 2, at the Caledonian Stadium, but heavy overnight rain has affected the playing surface.

"And following a pitch inspection this morning, the match has been called off. A new date for the fixture has yet to be confirmed."

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has called for fans to be considered more when it comes to kick-off times. It is the second time this season a Celtic game at Inverness has been called off - a 340-mile round trip from Glasgow - and Lawwell believes it is time to put fans first.

"Inverness are a great community club and George Fraser (chairman), Graeme Bennett (director of football) and the rest of the board always make us and our supporters feel very welcome, so it is a difficult situation, but clearly there is something wrong with the drainage of the pitch here,'' Lawwell told Celtic's official website. "I have great sympathy for our supporters who were already on their way here and we can only apologise to them.

"We value their support and they do need to be considered when it comes to setting kick-off times, otherwise they are going to end up saying 'Enough is enough' if they're being asked to travel to games such as Inverness with a midday kick-off time.

"The kick-off time is not ideal for our supporters, who were already on the road and halfway to Inverness when the game was called off. Our fans are the lifeblood of our club, and of Scottish football, and they need to be considered more when it comes to setting kick-off times.

"Television is obviously an important income generator in Scottish football, but the fans need to be considered more in order that we can achieve a balance. We've already got a 6pm kick-off for our game against St Johnstone and that could be the case again for this fixture when it is rescheduled.''

Inverness apologised to fans of both teams for the postponement, but expressed frustration that the SPL did not delay the kick-off to allow the pitch time to drain.

A club statement read: "The game being off was in no way Caley Thistle's fault but we appreciate that supporters will be frustrated. The facts of the matter are that heavy overnight rain, combined with high tide, caused a major problem to our playing surface.

"By 8am it was unplayable but with a good short-term weather forecast and a falling tide, we felt the game could go on. We asked the referee to wait another half hour, which we are positive would have made all the difference in fast-improving conditions, but at 9.45am he called the game off.

"The pitch was playable within 30 minutes to an hour and we feel the game could have been played. Before the referee's verdict, however, the club had tried to contact the SPL to have the kick-off delayed by an hour until 1pm, and Celtic indicated that this was suitable to them.

"Unfortunately, there was no reply from the SPL. It is a great pity that such a much-anticipated fixture could not be played. Had it been a normal 3pm kick-off, there would have been no pitch problem whatever.''

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