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Friday, February 12, 1999 Published at 09:57 GMT

Sport: Football

Three matches in floodlight probe

West Ham equalise - and seconds later the lights go out

Police are looking into floodlight failures at three Premiership games.

The decision comes after the arrest of four men on Thursday on suspicion of burglary at the Charlton Athletic's The Valley ground in London.

The matches were all abandoned in the second half after lighting equipment failed, plunging players and fans into darkness.

The three games under investigation are:

Derby v Wimbledon, 14 August, 1997

The inaugural Premiership game at Derby's new Pride Park stadium was called off with the score at 2-1 after the lights went out in the 11th minute of the second half.

Referee Uriah Rennie abandoned the match following a delay of more than half-an-hour while engineers tried unsuccessfully to restart two failed generators.

Derby Vice-Chairman Peter Gadsby said: "We had 11 maintenance people on duty including six electricians but nobody has yet worked out why both generators failed. There was a bang of such strength that it fused them both."

West Ham v Crystal Palace, 3 November, 1997

West Ham had just fought their way back to 2-2 from two-nil down when the lights failed in the 65th minute at Upton Park.

Despite repeated attempts to get the floodlights functioning, engineers only managed to generate a brief flicker from them before they died again.

The referee finally called the match off after a 30-minute wait.

West Ham Managing Director Peter Storrie said the floodlights had "contracted a fault" that was it was not possible to fix in the timescale allowed.

Wimbledon v Arsenal, 22 December, 1997

Selhurst Park's floodlights died after just 13 seconds of the second half with the scores tied at 0-0.

[ image: Arsenal vs Wimbledon: Only the scoreboard was visible]
Arsenal vs Wimbledon: Only the scoreboard was visible
On this occasion, engineers managed to restart them just 12 minutes later, only for them to go out again - this time permanently - while the players were warming up to go back on.

Referee Dermot Gallagher immediately called the game off.

Referring to the two previous light failures, Wimbledon Director Sam Hammam said: "This shouldn't be happening. Once was bad enough, the second wasn't pretty, and this is getting near a disaster. Unless we stop it there will be shame on the game. We are all embarrassed by it."

However, following the incident, police said there was "no evidence" of sabotage.

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