Yeovil Town chief executive Martyn Starnes has said the club will formally complain about referee Sam Mulhall describing his decision to call off today’s match with Altrincham at Huish Park as “nonsense.”

Starnes said a complaint would go in to the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) claiming he ignored the advice from Glovers’ boss Mark Cooper and his players to allow the game to go ahead.

After the postponement, the team trained on the pitch closest to the away end which had not been a concern to the official, who Starnes and Cooper said was concerned about parts of the penalty area in front of the Thatcher’s End which had been covered all week.

Speaking to BBC Somerset’s Sheridan Robins on Saturday afternoon, Starnes said: “The manager and all the players were more than happy for the game to go ahead, Altrincham have traveled for five hours and as far as I am aware they want to play the game and it is just an outrageous decision by the referee.

He has not taken in to account the representation from the players or the manager and this needs to be challenged. I will be going to the PGMOL and making a formal complaint.

It is very frustrating when a game gets called off late and I do understand that sometimes the weather conditions do conspire against you and, according to the referee, they conspired against us again – but it is just simply the wrong decision.

If the squad can play a training session on this pitch, why can’t we play a National League game? It’s just nonsense.

They think the area in the goal mouth is too hard, it is firm in certain places but the pitch against Dorking (in the FA Trophy earlier this month) was a lot worse than this and we played that game without incident. We told him that and he still would not take on any of these representations, it is a really, really poor decision from the referee.

Martyn Starnes, left, with director Stuart Robins, centre, and chairman Scott Priestnall at the match at Altrincham in August.

Cooper said there was “one small area” of the pitch which the club had “a heater” on to speed up the thawing out process which had caused concern to the match official.

“When he spoke to the BBC after the match, he referred to the weather in Somerset as “like Saint Tropez“, adding: “We have trained the last two days on perfectly soft pitches at Alvington half-a-mile down the road, there’s one small area on the bottom goal that I think would have thawed out. Have we done as much as we could to get it on? I’m not sure.

It’s solely the officials decision. It’s been taken out of my hands and by 3pm the pitch is playable and now most of the pitch is perfect and it is only one little area which we have a heater on that would have thawed out. We can’t affect the referee, that is his decision.”

Starnes was introduced by BBC Somerset’s Geoff Twentyman as the club’s CEO, a position that he appears as on the club’s website and in October Glovers’ chairman Scott Priestnall said he would be appointed in the role “shortly” – but he has never been formally announced in the role.

The surface had been covered overnight with temperatures dropping below zero and a “group of staff and volunteers” were on the pitch to attempt to make it playable. The pitch in front of the Thatcher’s Stand had been covered since the start of the week as it gets less sun on it, but the rest of the surface was only covered on Friday.

Just before 11am on Saturday, the club confirmed there would be a 1pm pitch inspection describing it as “firm in some small patches” and comments from the club’s official Facebook account said “there were no qualified referees in the area able to come in this morning” and conduct an earlier inspection.

In a statement confirming the postponement, the club said: “In our view the referee has made an outrageous decision to call the game off despite representations from the club that the game should go ahead.

Maybe they are saving it for the forthcoming Fans’ Forum…….


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