We have now received a reply from the Police Chief Inspector in Lancashire responsible for the policing of our FA Cup tie with Burnley on 5 January. That reply is reproduced below.
I have not been contacted by the Club since. Therefore I have not offered any further opinion. Clearly as the circumstances have changed so have the staffing issues for the police."
To us, it seems that if the decision on when this match could go ahead had been taken after the result of the Yeovil v Accrington tie was known, it would have been possible to play the tie on Sunday 4th January. That would have been a common sense decision, and one which would have provided an outcome that supporters of both clubs would have preferred.
THFC has said that "our original preference was to play the game on Sunday," but that "the FA had insisted that our tie with Burnley be confirmed ahead of the Yeovil v Accrington tie." The FA says that "both Clubs preference was to play on the Monday night". The police say they were contacted about the possibility of the Burnley v Spurs game going ahead at the same time as a possible Accrington v Manchester United tie by Burnley FC, which had "objections to it being played on this date" and that Burnley FC stated "they would prefer the fixture on the Monday night".
Significantly, neither Club contacted the police once it was clear the Accrington tie would not be going ahead.
On 19 December, Burnley FC Chief Executive, Lee Hoos, said: "There are a lot of fixtures over the Christmas and New Year period and to maximise player recovery time, Monday is an optimal day to play."
And the FA have told us that they "understand both Clubs' preference was to play on the Monday night (regardless of whether of not Accrington were knocked out".
It seems clear to us that both BFC and THFC wanted this game to be played on the Monday night. We are not only disappointed with this stance, but also disappointed that the clubs are not prepared to say this openly. The decision to play on a Monday was never going to be popular with supporters and would, no doubt, have prompted much comment about modern footballers' attitude to workload. Ultimately, though, we have to defer to the coaching and playing staff on matters such as this.
What is regrettable is that neither Club seems prepared to have been completely honest with its supporters. And that they were happy to imply it was a police decision that meant the tie could not go ahead on the Sunday. We also regret the inability of the FA, as the competition organiser, to ensure a decision on the timing of this tie was deferred until all the circumstances were known. The FA could have acted to preserve the 'magic of the cup' it is so keen to emphasise, but it chose instead to hide behind circumstance and let others take the brunt of fan anger.
As we have observed before, this sorry episode reveals much about the true state of how football is run, and of the real attitudes to supporters that lay behind the fine words.