Football: FA to combat last-minute cancellations

The Football Association has stepped in to avoid a repetition of the furore caused by last week's last-minute cancellations in the FA Cup.

The FA Competitions secretary, Steve Clark, has written to all the clubs left in the competition, advising them of new guidelines designed to prevent fans making pointless journeys.

Clark has ordered the home clubs to ensure the match official - or an FA appointed referee - inspects the pitch before the likely departure time of visiting fans. Pitch inspections should also take place the day before the game if it is felt that the match is in doubt.

Clubs are also being ordered to monitor pitch conditions and advise the FA and the media of inspections if they are necessary, while fans should not be allowed into grounds if there is any chance of the game being called off.

Steve Double, the FA spokesman, said: "We want to do what we can to avoid fans having long, expensive and wasted journeys."

Leeds United's new owners are attempting to purchase Elland Road from the city council. The local authority bought the ground in 1985 for pounds 2.5m, but now Caspian is ready to pay double that amount to buy it back. However, the council values the ground at around pounds 20m.

Stoke City's new pounds 15m ground, to be opened in August, will be named the Britannia Stadium after a 10-year sponsorship deal with the Britannia Building Society worth pounds 1.3m. The main road leading to the site will be called Stanley Matthews Way.

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