Referee Barry Cook insists he had no option but to declare Hamilton’s artificial pitch unplayable and call off the visit of Kilmarnock.
Freezing conditions in Lanarkshire saw the official called to the SuperSeal stadium at around 5pm for an initial inspection but over an hour later the Ladbrokes Premiership game was called off after he had taken a second look.
Controversy surrounded the postponement due to the lateness of the decision – around 6.25pm – on a type of surface which, it is often argued, should be able to counter inclement weather.
Cook told BBC Radio Scotland: “I got a call from Hamilton to come in for an inspection round about five o’clock.
“I think the guys have been working hard on the pitch all day to clear the snow and the groundsman has been salting the pitch as well.
“But there was still a little bit of snow and ice on the pitch and underneath is hard and very slippy and ultimately it is about the players’ safety.
“I had a discussion with both managers and we have been out on the pitch but the conditions haven’t improved and there was really only one decision to make which was to postpone the match.
“The groundsman was confident that things would improve during the match but we need to make a call right now and unfortunately we don’t have a crystal ball to predict what’s going to happen.
“The temperature was supposed to continue to drop so in our eyes it was probably going to get worse rather than better so the inevitable call had to be made.”
Hamilton manager Martin Canning claimed the pitch would have been playable by the 7.45 pm kick-off.
“It’s disappointing,” he told BBC Scotland website.
“Given time, another half an hour on the pitch, it would have been fine.
“We played on the pitch against Ross County and it was probably slippier than it is, but the referee has got to make a call and in his opinion he thinks it’s a little slippy for the players to play on. It’s his call to make.
“The temperature is dropping, but there’s enough salt on the pitch so I don’t think it’s going to get any worse.
“It’s going to get better. A lot of work has gone into it today and it’s disappointing that it’s not going to make it.
“[The snow] protects the pitch underneath, the groundsman’s working hard to get the snow off and in another half an hour it would have been fine. But the referee has made his call.”
Hamilton released a statement on the club’s official website which apologised for the incovenience and claiming the club had been “ultimately swept away by nature and with the forecast to remain below freezing for the next few hours, it wasn’t assisting”.
Kilmarnock later released a short statement on its official website which read: “Kilmarnock FC is naturally disappointed that tonight’s Ladbrokes Premiership match against Hamilton Academical has been postponed due to a frozen pitch.
“Referee Barry Cook and his team made the decision following a 6.15pm pitch inspection
“We fully understand the decision as player safety is paramount.”
First published www.eveningexpress.co.uk, 27 Dec 2017.