Pitch covering fails to save frozen Leicester

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The Independent Football

Leicester City have backed David Elleray's decision to postpone their home Premiership game against Arsenal yesterday because of a frozen pitch.

The referee made the decision to call off the game between the bottom and top sides in the division after a 2pm inspection at Filbert Street, three and a half hours before the scheduled kick-off.

The Foxes had been confident their pitch covering would be sufficient to protect the surface for a match which was a 21,000 sell-out despite the sub-zero temperatures of the last 48 hours. But the pitch began to freeze as soon as it was exposed to the elements and left Elleray with little choice but to postpone the game.

"My first concern has to be the safety of the players and, as soon as the pitch covering was rolled back, the pitch started to freeze," Elleray said. "By 7pm when the match would still have been being played, the pitch would have been frozen and dangerous for the players."

John Elsom, the Leicester chairman, said: "The club did everything to try and stage the game, but it would have been impossible for it to go ahead. We are bitterly disappointed, but, having been out on to the pitch myself, I agree totally with the referee.

"There was no way we could have been playing this game at 7pm tonight with the temperatures that had been forecast. The last thing we would have wanted was to have been forced to abandon the game or postpone it a short time before kick-off after all the fans had travelled."

Middlesbrough's game against Everton went ahead, but only after passing a pitch inspection ­ which came as a relief to Boro, whose last scheduled home game, against Fulham, fell victim to the cold weather three days before Christmas.

Crystal Palace's game against Gillingham at Selhurst Park fell victim to the weather less than two hours before kick-off, leaving only six First Division matches played.

* Chesterfield's assistant manager Ian Banks is to join Nicky Law at Bradford City. Law was appointed as Jim Jefferies' successor on Monday. Kevin Hornsby will also be joining the pair as fitness coach, while Dave Rushbury has agreed to take temporary charge at Chesterfield ahead of their game against Brentford at the weekend. Chesterfield's chairman, Ian Yeowart, said: "We thank Ian and Kevin for all they have done for Chesterfield and wish them all well in their new roles at Bradford City."