South Shields defend their integrity after Morpeth clash abandonment

Players in the dark at Mariners Park on Saturday
Players in the dark at Mariners Park on Saturday

South Shields have issued a statement defending themselves and attacking criticism headed their way after the abandonment of Saturday’s FA Vase tie with Morpeth Town after a floodlight failure.

The lights went out with less than 10 minutes left, just after Morpeth had scored to go 4-2 up.

Here is Shields’ statement:

Following the abandonment of the FA Vase tie with Morpeth Town on Saturday 7th January 2017, the club has been subjected to unfair criticism and scurrilous attacks on its integrity.

We therefore for the record make the following observations.

In the 81st minute of the tie, seconds after Morpeth took a 4-2 lead, there was a catastrophic failure of the diesel generator that provides power to the main floodlights. The generator is totally independent of all the other lighting within the ground and its local vicinity.

Attempts were made for 45 minutes after the failure to restart the generator without success. Morpeth Town officials were present and indeed a suitably qualified Morpeth supporter was also in attendance.

Following consultation between the referee and the FA, at 5.30pm the match was declared abandoned.

The club was required to submit a report by 9am today to the FA detailing the circumstances of the failure, which resulted in the club being exonerated from any fault on its part.

Further, by 5pm today we were required to supply the FA with an independent report from a qualified Electrical Contractor together with photographic evidence of the present state of the generator.

The FA, having found nothing untoward, have applied their published rules, which requires the match to be replayed at Mariners Park at the earliest opportunity.

The club favoured a replay date of Saturday 14th January 2017, so that we could ensure all necessary works had been completed in order to stage the match, however the FA have deemed the match should take place this Wednesday 11th January 2017.

In order to comply with the FA’s request, emergency work will be carried out over the course of tomorrow to connect a new generator to the floodlights, and the club has been requested to have a suitably qualified electrician in attendance throughout the match to monitor the new installation.

The club historically has relied upon a power supply remote from the site. Our own dedicated supply was ordered and paid for in June 2016 and is scheduled to be energised before the end of January 2017. At that stage, all of the ground’s electrical requirements will be provided by a mains feed directly under the control of the club, thus hopefully alleviating any future problems.

The club would like to apologise to both sets of supporters that it was not possible to conclude the tie on Saturday, but hope with the release of this statement we have shown that we have fairly conducted matters since.