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Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Saturday, 20 February 2010

Rangers and St Johnstone bosses agree on late call-off

McDiarmid Park
Parts of McDiarmid Park were frozen after -6C temperatures

Dejected Rangers manager Walter Smith believes that referee Mike Tumilty was correct to call off his team's league match at St Johnstone due to frost.

"It's disappointing, but in fairness it's the right decision," he said.

Tumilty made the call only an hour before kick-off as parts of the McDiarmid Park pitch had not thawed after overnight temperatures of -6C.

Saints boss Derek McInnes said: "We weren't anticipating this at all. We're just really frustrated."

The call-off gives Celtic the chance to eat into Rangers' 10-point Scottish Premier League lead against Dundee United on Saturday.

The heating has been on since Monday. It had to be on for the Hibs game and we kept it on, but that part of the pitch doesn't get any sunlight.

St Johnstone manager Derek McInnes

Smith added: "It's the wrong time to make the decision, but it's the right decision. It's very disappointing from our own point of view and for the supporters who have travelled to the game."

Having arrived at the ground at 0900 GMT, McInnes was shocked that the game was postponed.

The St Johnstone manager said: "It was brought to my attention that the 18-yard box was firmer than the rest of the pitch.

"The SPL delegate thought that once the sun got to it, it would be fine. He wasn't too alarmed.

"The heating has been on since Monday. It had to be on for the Hibs game and we kept it on, but that part of the pitch doesn't get any sunlight.

"If it had been a three o'clock kick-off it would have been OK. It's the right decision - there is an area that is far too hard."

And McInnes, who was keen to see if his team could continue the form that resulted in a 5-1 hammering over Hibernian in midweek, added: "It's a real disappointment. It's a perfect day to be playing a game of football."

The date for the rearranged match is expected to be announced on Monday.

"It's going to be difficult to fit it in," warned Smith. "We were hoping to get all our games played when they should be played."

With previous postponements, the Perth Saints have played the fewest SPL fixtures and have two games in hand compared to most of their opponents.

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see also
McInnes hopes for Saints momentum
20 Feb 10 |  St Johnstone


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