DEREK McINNES has praised match official Steven McLean for showing to wherewithal to canvass the opinion of both sets of players before calling off Aberdeen’s Premiership fixture against Livingston.
The Dons boss believes McLean ultimately came to the right decision, describing the conditions on the waterlogged 4G surface as ‘dangerous’.
McInnes also absolved their hosts of any responsibility, given the flash nature of the deluge which swiftly turned areas of the pitch into puddles and was not forecast to let up until 10 p.m., at the very earliest.
“The referee [McLean], quite cleverly in my opinion, went around the senior players that he’s known for a long time in my team and in the Livingston team and asked their opinion,” said McInnes.
“Managers can sometimes influence this kind of thing, but the players expressed concern.
“The ref then asked the players if they thought the pitch was unsafe and dangerous and the consensus from all the players was that it was – and he’s right with that.”
It is the second time this fixture has been postponed, with the original match on December 30 falling foul of heavy snow a freezing conditions in West Lothian.
On that occasion, Aberdeen has only completed a portion of their journey south, albeit goalkeeping coach Gordon Marshall had gone ahead to inspect the surface.
Last night, however, the definitive pitch inspection occurred just three minutes before the scheduled kick-off time.
“When we were travelling down there were no thoughts that the game was ever in doubt,” said McInnes. “The amount of water on the pitch is unusual, I think it caught us out to be honest.
“When my staff first went out to warm up and set-up, concerns were raised about the water on the pitch and it was only then it started to become a factor. Having seen it myself when I came out I could understand it.
“The groundsmen were sweeping off the water but they obviously couldn’t have done that once the game started. It was going to get worse.
“It’s a real frustration that we’ve come all the way down for the second time, but there’s no blame attached to Livingston.”
While both parties were amicable following the decision, there were some visibly passionate discussions on the pitch prior to McLean delivering his verdict, with McInnes later revealing those were regarding whether or not to start the game.
Livi boss David Martindale was in the camp that wanted to give the game a chance.
“Aberdeen and the referee had concerns for the players’ safety, and I had concerns too,” said Martindale. “But I was quite keen to start the game and see how it went.
“I’m gutted, the boys are gutted, we are all gutted.”
Martindale also disputed the notion that most of the 22 players who were due to start the match felt the conditions were hazardous, adding: “The majority of Livingston players were sitting saying they wanted to try and get the game played.”
McLean described the eleventh hour postponement as ‘disappointing’ but said ‘player safety’ was his prime priority.
“I spoke to both clubs and decided to conduct a pitch inspection after the warm up, in order to have the whole playing surface to inspect,” McLean added, explaining why the examination took place so close to the intended kick-off time.
“That was done and I then had conversations with representatives of both clubs and agreed the pitch was unsafe to start the match. Unfortunately it’s really late in the day and it’s disappointing.
“But my concern is player safety and that has to be the number one priority.”
No date has been arranged for the third attempt at getting this fixture fulfilled, although both bosses cited the potential weekend of January 30/31 which was due to be used for the Scottish Cup third round before that competition was placed on hiatus.