County's fury over re-arranged Gateshead fixture
FURIOUS Newport County director of football Tim Harris believes the Football Conference will be making “a disgraceful mistake” if they force the Exiles to play their re-arranged game with Gateshead next Thursday.
Gateshead announced on their website that the clash will now be on Thursday, March 21, at York City, despite Newport appealing against that and offering two other potential dates to stage the clash.
The Exiles play Kidderminster at home just 48-hours before, but it’s the issue of successive long away trips that has irked the Exiles.
They must now go to York, Stockport and Southport, which equates to around 1,400 miles of travelling, in just five days.
County have lodged an appeal to the Conference and proposed a third date – March 28 – for the game to take place, and have also aimed criticism directly at Gates-head.
“This has descended into a ludicrous situation, the inconvenience and cost involved for us as a club and for our supporters is totally unacceptable,” Harris explained.
“The way Gateshead and the league have dealt with the whole thing is embarrassing, making us play next Thursday would be a disgraceful mistake.
“The nuts and bolts of it is that if they (the Conference) force us to play the game then – which they can do – then we will be forced to travel for three long away trips in five days without any home game to break it up.
“We understand there are issues of fairness of competition but nonetheless you need to not give a club a complete and utter handicap like we’ve just been given.
“This is a professional league and we’re expected to travel by coach to three places in such a short space of time?
“It gives us a massive disadvantage, it could very well hurt our chances in what is a finely balanced league table and we are furious, as you can understand and I’m sure our fans can.”
Harris isn’t usually keen to be quoted in the press but feels he has been backed into a corner during this unsatisfactory saga.
“We aren’t happy with Gateshead either, they’ve posted certain things on their website before anyone from their club has contacted us,” he said.
“If you remember back, this has come about because we did Gateshead a favour in December by switching the games (County’s away trip wouldn’t have been on so Gateshead instead came to play at Rodney Parade) and look what our reward is!
“We unquestionably lost revenue for that one, it was our lowest attendance at Rodney Parade because of the short notice, and despite doing a good turn, I feel we’ve subsequently been treated appallingly.
“I have gone back to the Football Conference and suggested March 28 (to play Gateshead) and I hope very much they’ll help to accommodate us, even though that wasn’t one of our first two choices either.
“We have to fight for what is right for Newport County and if we are forced to play next Thursday it’ll be clear to everyone that the situation we find ourselves in is entirely unjust.”