Sunderland to probe postponed Reading match

WET, WET, WET: The  match between Sunderland and Reading was called off  because of a waterlogged pitch at the Stadium of Light.
WET, WET, WET: The match between Sunderland and Reading was called off because of a waterlogged pitch at the Stadium of Light.

SUNDERLAND will hold a full investigation into the causes of the game against Reading being called off at the weekend.

The match was officially abandoned at 1.45pm because of a waterlogged pitch following a steady downpour.

But 11 out of 12 non-league fixtures in the region were able to continue despite the rain and nationally, barely a game was postponed because of the downpours.

Sunderland and Reading managers Martin O’Neill and Brian McDermott, as well as match-day referee Neil Swarbrick, admitted they had never heard of a game being called off in August because of a bad weather.

“Another first!” smiled Martin O’Neill with mock delight.

But the manager was certainly annoyed, and maybe a little embarrassed, that the game didn’t go ahead.

Annoyed because he was convinced Sunderland had a great chance of getting all three points, embarrassed because you don’t expect a game in a state-of-the-art ground like the Stadium of Light to be called off unless there’s a monsoon.

The Black Cats invested heavily over the summer to improve their playing surface, which came in for criticism from boss Martin O’Neill and some of his players last season.

So there must have been disappointment all round that heavy rain overnight on Friday and into Saturday afternoon was enough to overwhelm the pitch.

Galling too, that by the time kick-off time came around, the rain which was supposed to be set in for the day had ceased and the surface looked eminently playable.

On a day when the vast majority of the non-league programme in the North-East went ahead despite the rain, chief executive Margaret Byrne revealed the club would be holding an inquest into what went wrong.

Byrne said: “Naturally everyone is hugely disappointed that our opening game of the season could not go ahead as planned.

“I would like to express my sincere apologies to those fans, both home and away, who have travelled such distances to support their respective teams and had to go home disappointed.

“I would also like to thank the manager, players and officials from Reading FC for their understanding in this matter.

“The club has invested a significant sum into pitchworks over the summer months and we are confident that it is in first-class condition. We will however meet with our pitch consultants immediately to carry out a full analysis of Saturday’s events.”