SAT, 7:45AM ET
WHU2
MCFC1
SAT, 10AM ET
LIV0
HULL0
SAT, 10AM ET
SUN0
ARS2
SAT, 10AM ET
SOU1
STO0
SAT, 12PM ET
REAL0
BARCA0
SAT, 12:30PM ET
SWA
LEI

How Capable Are The United Kingdom And Football Officials In Coping With Extreme Weather Conditions?

snow How Capable Are The United Kingdom And Football Officials In Coping With Extreme Weather Conditions?

Call me a naive American, but how capable are the United Kingdom and football officials in coping with extreme weather conditions? Most Yank readers of EPL Talk will know that when extreme weather hits the States, the process to clear roads, sidewalks and major interstates immediately begin (and usually with quick results). In what now seems to have been a month long struggle, (in truth, it’s only been 7-10 days)  yet more matches in Old Blighty this weekend have faced the chop. A few Premier League matches have been called off for this weekend already, with the possibility of a couple more set for postponement. Only seven total games will take place in the Championship, League One, League Two and the Conference combined. Do FA and Premier League officials need to implement some sort of winter break in the future to avoid fixture pile up?

Here are the five Premier League matches that have been confirmed postponed as of Friday 1 PM eastern time - Fulham v Portsmouth, Burnley v Stoke City, Bolton v Sunderland, Chelsea v Hull City and Liverpool v Tottenham on Sunday.  The weather-related postponements coupled with the status of Setanta USA up in the air could make football viewing slim this weekend.

So, my English brethren, what’s going on? Don’t take this as a slight, but what gives? Is it snow, ice, a combination of both? Do not pick up truck-owning red necks (I’m from Kentucky, I can say that) attach massive plows on the front of their 4×4′s and plow the roads in the United Kingdom? We’ll glady send some of our finest back woods brothers and sisters over to you, because at the end of the work week, WE WANT OUR FOOTBALL!

Is this one of the worst weather-related football stories to surface in recent years? Are Premier League officials correct in calling off matches when most pitches seem to be in fine playing condition? Whatever the answer, here’s hoping Spring comes sooner rather than later in the U.K. (See below, The U.K. covered in snow)

 britsnow How Capable Are The United Kingdom And Football Officials In Coping With Extreme Weather Conditions?

 

(Thanks to Tyson for the Picture tip)

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64 Responses to How Capable Are The United Kingdom And Football Officials In Coping With Extreme Weather Conditions?

  1. The Gaffer says:

    I think it’s more a case of football clubs being overly sensitive to not getting sued if football supporters slip and fall and get injured.

    In the US, which is a very litigious country, NFL games happen during winter weather, so why are the Premier League clubs doing this? Yes, if public transportation is shut down and fans are unable to make it the ground, that’s a different story.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

    • AtlantaPompey says:

      The NFL would rather a fan fall on some ice and sue the club rather than miss the money from television. They will reschedule a game on the other side of the country to avoid a hurricane, not caring if any of the home fans can make it. New Orleans is the obvious example, which played their home games in San Antonio while the SuperDome was being rebuilt. Miami played a home game in San Diego a couple of years ago because of an impending hurricane.

  2. Tyson says:

    In the north of England we had the match between City and United cancelled. Thankfully it was only a Carling Cup match which isn’t important as far as matches go.

    I know in a lot of places in the United States it snows a lot but it isn’t a common occurence in the United Kingdom. This is also the coldest winter the country has endured in a century. It was a complete and utter surprise and I’ve had the entire week off from work. The kids have had the week off from school. We just haven’t had to face something like this in quite a while, the whole country is covered in snow.

    Another problem is we have a limited supply of salt to de-ice the roads and our stocks in certain parts of the country are dwindling. Because we don’t want to thousands of people driving in such conditions we are cancelling the matches rather than letting them go on.

    One of the places suffering from a lack of salt supplies is where I live and both Manchester City and Manchester United grounds are close by. Simply put 40 thousand people driving to Manchester City on Wednesday would have been a disaster. They really had no choice at all but to cancel that match and I think if these condititons persist they simply will not take the risk.

    I hope this weekends matches are not cancelled. I’ve heard Liverpool have asked for the Tottenham match to be delayed. I expect matches played in the North of England to be delayed or cancelled this weekend unless things turn around extremely fast but maybe the matches being played in the South of England will still go on.

    Either way getting 2 weeks of snow when your used to 2 days of it is extremely unusual in this country.

    This satellite picture when the snow was at its worse took me by surprise:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8447023.stm

  3. Richard says:

    Worst weather in 20+ years. Most places at midday are freezing or below freezing, and most places at midnight are at -10C. This is virtually unheard of in England.

    You only have to watch an hour or so of daytime TV in England to catch at least one advert for “no win, no fee” lawyers. So that will be a factor I reckon, as noone wants to get sued.

    People panic when it snows. Shops sell-out of food. Schools close. It’s all a bit embarrassing to be honest, but you’ve just got remember that this sort of weather is so infrequent it’s a massive shock when it happens.

    The stadia in the Premier League are all (with the possible exceptions of Fratton Park and Craven Cottage) capable of football tomorrow, but its the surroundings road and pathways that are ‘treacherous’.

  4. ben says:

    Richard’s right, this weather’s very rare in the UK, whereas in the US it happens every year. Can you imagine if MLS played through the winter and tried scheduling matches in Chicago, New Jersey, or Foxboro? What if they had a team in Buffalo?

    Obviously, other European countries get snow and still manage to play through their winter schedules, but some (like Norway), play around their worst weather. Playing soccer in the snow can be kinda fun, but if fans don’t show up to buy tickets, you have to reschedule.

    • eplnfl says:

      We just had 10 inches of snow in Chicago but are working and going to school today. A friend of near Atlanta told me things are closed down there for weather reasons not near as bad as we are having. It’s being used to it and prepared.

      England is getting extremely bad cold and snow which is rare. It is common by our standards in the Midwest. All I want to hear from the England press and soccer snobs is that you can’t play in conditions like this and hear no more about a winter MLS schedule.

      • AtlantaPompey says:

        We are out of school today because of the ice on the roads. We just can’t clear or salt that many roads to make it worth it to travel. As soon as I got out of bed this morning, I watched a neighbor try to drive his pickup truck up the street, which is a pretty steep hill. He finally just let is slide down the hill slowly, fortunately avoiding the new mailbox post and flower bed that my wife and I made last spring.

        Yes, this is the perfect argument against MLS playing on a schedule like most of the rest of the world.

        • The Gaffer says:

          I disagree about the MLS thing. I hate when MLS plays during the heat of the summer in this country (especially if a team returns to Florida). It’s too hot for the fan and players.

          My recommendation would be that MLS splits the league into two halves played at different times of the year.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • The Guvnah says:

            Too hot in the summer for the fans? You are crazy!

            Sorry Gaffer, but if baseball can do it, so can the MLS. I lived in South Florida from 1980 through 2001 and not once did I get heat stroke, exhaustion, or whine about playing sports outside with friends.

            If the heat is a problem, then schedule evening games. The Con-Fusion and Mutiny did that all the time. With so many players from Latin America… how can they complain about the heat?

            In regards to the current weather and transportation system in the UK… If the trains are running, the matches should be played.

            No one drives/tailgates outside for the EPL. Arrive early and have a pint indoors if its too cold to smoke a cig and drink outside.

  5. Alistair Hendrie says:

    Nice article. It’s basically because the country doesn’t have as many facilities to cope as somewhere which expects it ie Canada/some Scandinavian countries. We are apparently running out of grit and salt and places like main roads/motorways/airports/train stations take priority over football stadiums.

  6. Jason Gatties says:

    If Miami got hit with a major blizzard, the Dophin game would have been canceled. If you’re not use to that sort of weather, it will effect you.

  7. The Gaffer says:

    Jason, there’s a big difference between London and Miami. The average yearly temperature in London is 54F. In Miami, it’s 81F.

    Miami has never had a major blizzard and never will. But London, although they’ve had warmer winters for a couple of decades, should at least expect blizzards now and again.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

    • Jason Gatties says:

      Point was smartass, some areas are just not prepared for such events. Its just a fact. Let’s keep massive amounts of salt on hand on the off chance London gets a blizzard this decade. Who pays for all that salt just sitting there by the way? Like most places, I assume tax money.

      You know how stupid that sounds? Clearly you’re uneducated or you would have understood my point.

      I live in an area that hasn’t had a tornado in 100 years. Should I support our local government in coming up with an expensive plan to thwart off a tornado should one hit sometime over the next century? No.

      Moron.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Jason, there’s no need to call people names. We’re all soccer fans. We may disagree on things, but we should be kind to one another.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

      • AtlantaPompey says:

        Atlanta gets very little snow, yet keeps salt and road clearing equipment on hand, which costs lots of money. It came in handy today.

  8. Eddie says:

    “Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name, that name again is Mr. Plow!”

  9. Pete says:

    I for one am not happy with all these games being called off, i live in the north -west of England and I have had to drag my arse out to work every day. Yes it’s slippy and yes it’s not ideal but you would think that clubs who make so much money could afford some grit and salt to put round the grounds. The roads aren’t even that bad at the moment.
    Why aren’t these clubs doing more to sort out the walk ways around their stadiums?

  10. BergkampWndrlnd says:

    With all these games being called off, is there a chance that FSC and ESPN will shuffle what games they’re showing? I’d really like to see that Arsenal v. Everton game. Not sure that will happen, though.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Bergkamp, I doubt it. ESPN2 has “College Gameday” that begins at 11am ET, so they wouldn’t be able to show a 10am ET game on ESPN2. They could try moving something to ESPN Classic, but it’s pretty last minute and I doubt that’ll happen.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Doug says:

        College Gameday is American football, right? That’s over now. Anyone know if another will replace the Chelsea/Hull match scheduled for ESPN2?

        • The Gaffer says:

          Doug, it’s a college basketball show, not college football.

          Right now, ESPN has no plans to replace the Hull v Chelsea game with something else.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

        • Michael says:

          College Gameday is also for college basketball, which is very much in season now. I would guess they won’t replace the Chelsea/Hull match, but might show the makeup if it fits in their schedule.

        • Jim C says:

          College Gameday is a catch-all for whatever College sport is in season. Since college [american] football is over, it’s now all about College Basketball.

          Chelsea/Hull was the only game scheduled in that time slot, so I’d have to guess it’s extremely unlikely – though I would think the prospect of airing Landon Donovan’s Everton debut would at least give ESPN pause – the 10am EST kickoff should see the match end before they would go to their first college basketball game, Florida – Vanderbilt. Then again, with only Wigan-Aston Villa (currently scheduled to air live on FSC at 10:00 EST) in the same time slot, I would think FSC would also at least pause to consider it more ratings-worthy.

          • The Gaffer says:

            Jim, I spoke to ESPN earlier today and it appears very unlikely that they’ll show a game to replace Hull v Chelsea. As for FSC, they seem unwilling to budge from their Wigan v Villa broadcast. However, there is a pitch inspection planned for 8:30am GMT, so if the game at DW Stadium is postponed, let’s hope FSC makes the wise decision to show Arsenal v Everton.

            Cheers,
            The Gaffer

  11. Martin says:

    I didn’t expect that liability would be the reason. As someone mentioned before, the US is the most litigious country in the world, and our sporting events rarely ever get canceled for weather reasons.

    Slip-and-falls? That’s the reason teams aren’t playing this weekend? And that’s not a concern when there’s heavy rain, which seemingly half the EPL games are played in? Weird. I imagine the laws in England are fairly similar to the ones in the US, and I have to imagine there’s things the clubs can do to limit their premises liability, like businesses do here in the US. But maybe not. Just seems strange. Learn something new everyday.

  12. Pete says:

    Sky sports has just said which games are still on tomorrow. They are:

    Arsenal v Everton
    Hull v Chelsea
    Wigan v A Villa
    Birmingham v Man U

    • The Gaffer says:

      Thanks Pete for sharing the information. This is incredibly helpful to know which games will be on, and SkySports usually has it’s fingers on the pulse much better than other UK media organizations.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  13. Jon says:

    Martin,

    Three points:

    1) The laws on slip-and-fall liability don’t compare well nationally, because while the UK is a unified state with one set of national negligence laws, the US is a federal state, where the laws of negligence are determined on a state by state basis. So rather than say “I imagine the laws in England are fairly similar to the ones in the US” it would be better to compare the law of negligence in the UK to a state with similar weather conditions, like Washington or Oregon.

    2) Slip-and-fall liability due to snow in the United Kingdom will likely be greater than it would be in the northern and mid-western United States in any event. This is because the law of negligence is based on the concept of reasonableness. You have a duty of care to those reasonably affected by your actions, and you have to act on a standard of care that means you acted as a reasonable person would. But what counts as reasonable varies depending on the environment. In cities where inclement weather is common, a reasonable person would be expected to have equipment to clear their sidewalk and driveway, like a snow-blower or show shovel, and ice-melting salt. A person in Chicago without these things is not acting reasonably. But at the same time, you would not expect a reasonable person in Miami to possess these things, so they would not be unreasonable to fail to immediately clear their driveway in the unlikely event that a blizzard hit Miami.

    This means that limiting liability for US sports clubs because of weather is easier – they have the equipment and experience necessary to take reasonable steps, and the courts are experienced in seeing slip-and-fall negligence claims. If a person slips and falls at a Bears game but the club did everything reasonable to make it safe, they are less likely to be found liable in the courts. UK football clubs don’t have the equipment and they don’t have the courts who deal with these cases all the time, so the risk of liability is greater since it is harder to define and take “reasonable” measures. The less experienced the courts are, the fuzzier the line gets, and the more uncertainty the club has to make a wise cost-benefit decision.

    3) Lastly, it might not be slip-and-fall at the stadium at all, but liability of the city or borough where accidents might occur on the roads or in other public places such as on public transit.

    Better yet, it might not be a legal liability based decision at all, but a more human welfare one. While clubs might be immune from suit, they still might not want to see people getting hurt because they were trying to make it to a fixture.

    Cheers,

    Jon

  14. Indiana Jones says:

    Pete,
    What relevance is there in a Sky Sports schudule for the USA?

    • Pete says:

      Well as this this is a epl blog I thought the people who come here and look at it may be interested to know who’s playing tomorrow in the epl.
      I wouldn’t have thought this too dificult to understand.

  15. Marc says:

    I guess I’m a silly American from Chicago where, as a previous person pointed out, 10 inches doesn’t close anything, but didn’t England get its worst snow in 18 years this time last year? Did they just assume that was a fluke? Or do they also not understand that global warming means they will get more snow, cold weather, etc.?

    • Pete says:

      I don’t remember getting any snow last year. If there was it must have only been in certain parts on the country because there wasn’t any snow where i live

      • Marc says:

        I know there was 2 january 2009 in london, and though other areas may have gotten similar snowfalls

      • Tom Hingley says:

        Pete, you have a terrible memory, we did get very bad snow at the start of February last year, comparable to what we are seeing now. That said, it is still too early to assume it is now a yearly occurrence.

  16. Tom Hingley says:

    As mentioned several times, it is a simple cost/benefit issue.

    There is no point in authorities spending millions to be ready for such weather as we are seeing at the moment, when it only occurs once in a generation.

    I’m sure it’s the same in certain US states where it only very rarely snows – you can’t expect them to be ready with hundreds of plows etc 24/7. The money is far more wisely spent on health/education etc etc.

  17. man99utd says:

    Chelsea v Hull has just been called off….sleep in lads….

  18. Bishopville Red says:

    I might have missed this, but it appears that in some cases it is the local authorities, not the football clubs that cancel fixtures. The pitches and stadia can be OK, but if the roads are troublesome and the police think it’s going to cause a nightmare, it’s not happening.

    BTW, 10 centimetres in rural Atlantic Canada can close schools. I could get tot the building, no problem, but school busses, side roads (some unpaved) and snow are a poor mix.

  19. EApokerking says:

    I’m from Minnesota, so I’m naturally used to these conditions, but I can’t believe they are postponing this weekends matches when they’ve had all week to clean up the roads. Call me an ignorant and arogant American if you want, but what is your problem in the UK?

    You’ve had the whole week off?!!! WTF! You said that the temperature is around freezing, so what? When the temp is that warm the roads don’t freeze they still wet and slushy. You just need the plows to plow the street one time and the traffic will keep them clean after that. You don’t need salt on the roads when it is that warm either.

    The coldest it has been is -10 C overnight. So what, that is only 14 F. In Minnesota all last week and much of this week at has been getting between -20F to -30F. That is like -30C to -35C. Wayyy colder and yet our roads are clear after one day.

    I understand missing a day of work and school to clean up roads as you don’t have much equipment to deal with this, but to miss the whole week is just making an excuse to have a week off.

    Even when the roads are slippery here people still go out and do stuff you just drive more cautious and slower. No big deal. In Minnesota we just had 1-2 feet of snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas day and the wife and I still got in the car and drove 150 miles to my parents house. No big deal, just took a little longer.

    Also to the guy who had the neighbor with the rear wheel dirve pickup truck slide down the hill because of no traction. What an idiot, you need to put weight in the back of the truck to get traction, it’s called physics.

    Sorry about the rant, but I just don’t get it. If the fields are clear to play on, then what’s the problem. Aren’t the trains still running? I thought you English football fans were so great, I would think you would find I way to get to the game.

    • Jeff says:

      I’m in Michigan and get a lot of the same weather you get in Minnesota, however, we expect it every year. Our cities, counties, townships, etc are prepared for this type of weather.

      The UK just doesn’t get this type of weather typically or they get a one shot blast and its done. This is an extended winter storm and the country is doing the safest thing they can.

      I don’t like it, but its just like anyplace below the Mason/Dixon line in the US getting snow storms…

      • Marc says:

        I go to school below the Mason-Dixon line and, despite the prayers of all the students, we still had school though we got 4 inches overnight last winter

    • Bishopville Red says:

      Minnesota handles bad weather because Minnesota gets bad weather every year. England does not. How far would you get in Minny if all the snowplow workers went on strike? In London, there are none to go on strike.

      No snow plows + no winter tires = nobody going anywhere.

      The trains are not running. London is a total mess. I listened to a reporter last night talk about how London was shut down because a number of key train stations closed up at 8PM. Cabs are not running either.

      SB

      • MD says:

        Wait a minute. You’re saying London has NO snow plows? That seems the height of idiocy. Even southern US cities have a few sitting around just in case.

    • Ryan says:

      I have to agree with you man look at what happend in Baltimore when Chicago had to come in during that Blizzard. The game was delayed and people still filled the park and they had more than a foot of snow. And this past weekend in Buffalo you could bearly see the Colts players becuase it was snowing so hard and stadium was pretty much full.

      There is one thing I have to disagree with you though and that is when it snows you just drive slower. I live in Connecticut and when it snows and I see people with Flordia or South Carolina plates I try to keep extra distance away from them becuase they don’t have a clue how to drive in the snow. Like if your in a car without ABS or traction control pump the breaks don’t slam on the breaks, got rear wheel drive don’t gun it around a corner because your going to spin out and put some sand bags or bags or cement in your trunk or bed of your truck.

    • AtlantaPompey says:

      Knowing that requires experience we don’t have here in Atlanta. I’ve seen several others do the same.

  20. ovalball says:

    “Sorry about the rant, but I just don’t get it. If the fields are clear to play on, then what’s the problem. Aren’t the trains still running? I thought you English football fans were so great, I would think you would find I way to get to the game.”

    Oh, the fans would. Did you see the Bolton fans, on Sky Sports, who came down on Wednesday for the Arsenal match? None too pleased with the sissies who called it off.

  21. nick says:

    “We’ll glady send some of our finest back woods brothers and sisters over to you, because at the end of the work week, WE WANT OUR FOOTBALL!” and less rednecks wouldn’t hurt either

  22. TheLaffer says:

    What blows my mind is how Liverpool can cancel their match on Sunday 48 hours in advance. The forecast for today and tomorrow there is no snow with only light snow forecast for Sunday.

    Isn’t Liverpool used to a bit of snow? They have days to prepare and they have to call it off? It seems to me like the whole country has gone mental. The media seems to be feeding the frenzy with coining it “the big freeze”.

    • Connie says:

      It’s absolutely nothing to do with snow; everything around Anfield is one big sheet of ice from everyone I’ve spoken to. If you’ve ever been to ground you’ll know there are tons of small side streets (that would normally be packed with matchgoers on gameday) that haven’t been cleared. Sidewalks are dangerous, what limited parking there is on the best of days now won’t be available and the area would basically come to a standstill.

      Temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing within the next few days so there’s no chance of it disappearing. All the salt/grit in the world wouldn’t make that much impact at this point. I live in NYC and if people don’t both shovel *and* put melt out immediately, you can count on skating down the sidewalk for days (and that’s a fairly common occurrence).

      Very disappointing to not have the game but the amount of moaning is unbelievable. Chance to branch out and watch Serie A or La Liga instead!

  23. ovalball says:

    I’m watching West Brom v Forest live on Setanta-i. How did that happen? Are they in a tropical zone?

  24. Tony says:

    Liverpool is just scared to play tottenham and all these postponements are sabotaging my fantasy team!!

  25. BergkampWndrlnd says:

    Gaffer, has there been any update in the TV schedule, with the (likely) death of Setanta combined with the snow/cold?

  26. man99utd says:

    I hate to bring everyone down, but people have died because of these snow storms and were whinging about not getting to watch football on the tele. I love football as much as anyone, but let’s put this in perspective.

  27. eplnfl says:

    There seems to be some admission that in the English extreme weather and the weather that is common in much of the US and Canada during winter, you can not play football/soccer. Since the weather is an act of God I will thank him for proving the point made by most American soccer fans defending the MLS schedule.

    In England and many parts of the US there is no need to prepare on a regular basis for the extreme winter weather like we have in Chicago, or Detroit, or Milwaukee. I think the point here is that football may go on during a mild winter where maybe one or two games maybe effected and the fans can gut it out a game or two. Yet when it goes on for weeks or months and the snow piles up the teams or fans just can not continued.

    Ok, I’m off it and hope we can get some football in over the weekend. Does anyone know what ESPN UK plan on showing if they can’t show football? Maybe we can get a look at their UK feed in the US if things are called off.

  28. rej4sl66 says:

    I am a Brit but live in Minnesota – and yup the winters here in MN are ten times worse but you just get used to it – in the motherland they are not used to it and don’t have the equipment to deal with it. My friends in England are talking about the cold and the snow – and I do sympathize with them because although it is cold here in MN they are just not used to it over there. You just can’t compare the two – here in the city where I live we can go out no matter what the snow – the plows are very good ….. when I lived in the UK I remember sitting on a bus with one inch of snow and going nowhere fast.
    There will be EPL games another week better to be safe than sorry – and it is an extreme in weather – we can watch later – but wondering why the Man Utd. game can be in Birmingham on Saturday – still not called off so maybe something to watch who knows.

  29. rej4sl66 says:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/front_page/8443978.stm

    an overview of why the games are called off and what is on and what is not !!!

  30. Chris says:

    Arsenal v Everton is back on SETANTA USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Seybold says:

    UK weather is comparable to Seattle, where last year we had the same kind of extreme snow/cold conditions–first time in 20 years–and the whole town was paralyzed for two weeks. Nearly everyone got a vacation whether they wanted it or not, and the Mayor soon thereafter got a permanent vacation.

  32. Tyson says:

    Looks like the weather has claimed a few more casualties. The Liverpool game has been postponed as has the Chelsea one.

    Good news is if your a United or Arsenal fan it looks like those will still take place provided they are confident it won’t be risky for the spectators.

    Wait and see is all we can do now.

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