DAVID MARTINDALE has explained why Livingston’s artificial surface fell foul to the weather following the late postponement of their Premiership fixture against Aberdeen.
Martindale revealed that temperatures plunged to -6 degrees in West Lothian overnight, causing the drainage system at the Tony Macaroni Arena to seize.
That meant that when contractors cleared the 4G pitch of snow on Wednesday morning, the remaining moisture was able to seep into the turf and, with nowhere to go, freeze over.
The decision was made not to clear the snow until the day of the game due to the insulation it provided against the bitter cold.
However, Livi’s efforts over the prior 36 hours – which included first-team stars armed with shovels – were in vain, with match day referee Steven McLean calling the game off at 2.30 p.m., 90 minutes prior to its scheduled kick-off time.
Martindale said: “We had the players on the pitch with shovels on Tuesday morning just to create a square to train on, and we had contractors in from Tuesday all the way through to Wednesday morning trying to get the game on.
“We thought we were in a good position on Tuesday night but the temperature overnight was -6.
“And then when you are ploughing the snow, a layer of snow is compacted into the turf and, because of the temperature, our drainage froze. So, the park looks green but underneath that, there is a layer of moisture which had nowhere to go and has frozen solid.
“We salted the park three times overnight in the hope that would break up the ice but when it’s -6 overnight and the temperature doesn’t get above one degree during the day you don’t have a chance.”
Aberdeen set off from the Granite City at 10 a.m., ensuring a frustrating wasted trip for the Reds – but Martindale is adamant the lines of communication were clear throughout the process.
And he says Livi were willing to move the game back to an evening kick-off.
He continued: “Aberdeen knew about the situation and we offered to move the kick-off time back to 7.45pm, because they wouldn’t have needed to leave Aberdeen until later and we could have put more hours into the park.
“But they said they would come down as scheduled and see what the situation was.
“I was in contact with Steven Gunn [director of football operations] throughout giving him updates on the park.”
He added: “Ninety per cent of the park was playable but you couldn’t risk the other 10 per cent and we were all in agreement. There was black ice you couldn’t see under the green fibres.”
While Martindale was desperate to continue Livi’s momentum, having racked up six wins on the spin since he succeeded Gary Holt at the helm, he accentuated the positives to his gutted players.
The Lions boss dashed to watch Saturday’s opponents Hibs against Ross County after Easter Road sporting director Graeme Mathie teed him up with a last-minute scouting pass – and he hopes an unexpected night off for his players pays dividends.
Martindale added: “I said to the boys in the dressing room: let’s forget the negative, which is that we have prepared for this game and don’t get to play.
“Whereas, the positive is that we aren’t playing and Hibs are playing.”