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Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Rangers angry over cup call-off

Station Park
The tie at Forfar was postponed despite the efforts of volunteer ground staff

Rangers have criticised the Scottish Football Association for not postponing the Scottish Cup tie at Forfar sooner.

Chief executive Martin Bain said his club's fans were inconvenienced after the postponement, just over three hours prior to the 1215 GMT kick-off.

"We wrote to the SFA on Thursday about the forecast and asked for an early check," Bain told the Rangers website.

An SFA spokesman told BBC Scotland: "We have every sympathy with Forfar and Rangers fans making the journey."

Despite passing an inspection the previous day, and being covered overnight, the Station Park pitch was deemed frozen and unplayable just before 0900 GMT on Sunday morning.

And Bain said the SFA had failed to act on the information passed to them.

"They clearly haven't taken cognisance of our comments and the late call off is hugely disruptive for our fans," he said.

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain
The very reason we wrote to the SFA on Thursday was to avoid this exact scenario.

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain

But the SFA spokesman said: "We said we would have an inspection on Saturday, and the match official would be there first thing - procedures we've used in the past.

"Last night the pitch was perfectly playable, and everyone expected the match would go ahead.

"Nobody expected temperatures to drop as remarkably low as they did overnight, and this morning the pitch was rock-solid.

"Quite what we can do about the Scottish weather, I'm not sure."

However, Bain feels that, given the forecast, the authorities should have known that the match had little chance of going ahead.

"On Thursday afternoon we highlighted the long-range weather forecast to the SFA - which indicated that temperatures on Saturday night would drop to -7 degrees centigrade," he said.

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"The point is that the whole nation is in the midst of a cold snap right now and there was no indication that the weather was going to clear.

"It's all very well having a cover over the pitch but when the temperature drops to the level it did last night it simply freezes the moisture underneath the covers.

Bain added that despite asking for a decision on the match as early as Thursday, given the forecast of freezing temperatures, he was told that the earliest an inspection could take place was 24 hours prior to kick-off.

"We have made the point to the football authorities on numerous occasions that our fans come from far and wide, especially those who go to away matches," he said.

"The very reason we wrote to the SFA on Thursday was to avoid this exact scenario.

"We are really disappointed by all of this and we feel sorry for those fans who had already set out on their journeys only to learn that the match was off."

The postponement also means the draw for the quarter-finals, which was due to take place after Sunday's match, has been rescheduled for 1715 GMT on Monday at Hampden Park.

The match has been rearranged for Wednesday 18 February.

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