Mark Maguire expressed his ‘anger’ at Chester’s opening day clash at Solihull Moors being postponed at just 24 hours notice.
Solihull’s Damson Park stadium was deemed ‘unsafe’ by the Solihull Safety Advisory Group after a review of the ground’s safety procedures on Thursday night, with Chester informed of the decision via a phone call from Solihull on Friday morning.
Despite the best efforts of the Chester chief executive to make alternative arrangements to allow the fixture to take place, an executive decision was taken to postpone the fixture, with Maguire now calling for ‘appropriate action’ to be taken against the Midlands club.
“My main emotion is anger,” Maguire said, with Chester now set to begin the season with back-to-back home matches against AFC Fylde (tomorrow) and Halifax Town (Saturday).
“Anger for our supporters who had been looking forward to this fixture for months, who had booked train tickets, match tickets, time off work and spent good money in order to go to Solihull.
“What I can say to the fans is their viewpoint has been put across to the National League in a forthright manner and I have best conveyed the anger and frustration they must be feeling right now. They were travelling down in their hordes and they need to know I feel very strongly on their behalf.
“From having the pleasure of bumping into lots of our fans in recent weeks, it’s been apparent how positive they are feeling ahead of the new season.
“So this comes as not just a blow to Jon and his staff but to the fans too.
“Although it’s not particularly our position to do so, I’d like to offer our apologies to our fans, and rest assured your feelings have been conveyed.”
Discussions between Maguire and National League chief executive Mike Tattersall have taken place and the Blues chief is confident action will be taken against Solihull.
“I have a good relationship with the National League chief executive, I trust him and I trust the appropriate action will be taken,” he continued.
“They’ve promised me they’ll do what they need to do, especially in terms of the lateness of the message. But we leave these things to the appropriate process now, we’ll reflect and support the league in their investigations into this whole process.
“In terms of what happens next, I’d say watch this space. But our fans are a positive bunch who were excited for the new season and to have that taken away from them at the last minute is hugely disappointing.
“All I’d say to the fans now is I hope they come in their numbers on Tuesday night and let’s make it a good start to the season.”
Explaining the process in which the postponement had come about, Maguire described the day as a ‘calamity’ and accepts it was ‘too late’ to attempt to switch the fixture to the Swansway Chester Stadium.
“It’s been a calamity of a day,” he said.
“The first we knew of it was mid-morning when we had a phone call off Solihull saying there might be an issue.
“I immediately rang the chief executive of the league and it all too quickly became apparent
that there was little to no chance of the game going ahead.
“A hectic few hours then took place where we began making contingency plans for the game not taking place and we wanted to get the news out there as soon as possible to inform our supporters.
“We offered to help to see if there was anything that could be done for the game to take place, but it was too short notice.
“What is so frustrating is if we’d known in advance, we could have arranged for the fixure to be switched to our place.
“But at 24 hours notice that simply isn’t a possibility.”
Moors boss Liam McDonald described himself as ‘bitterly disappointed’ with the cancellation as he now prepares his side to travel to Leyton Orient tomorrow night.
“Like everybody involved with both Solihull Moors and Chester, I am bitterly disappointed to have our season opener cancelled and share the frustration of all supporters,” he explained.
“The club were only made aware of this issue by Solihull Council at 7.30pm on Thursday before postponement was enforced on us earlier today and we’ve been asked by The National League not to elaborate on the statement that has been issued.
“After an impressive pre-season, we were all hoping to carry that positive momentum into the new campaign and we all hope this issue will be resolved in the very near future.
“Professionally, we now have to immediately look to Leyton Orient away on Tuesday night and our full focus is ensuring our delayed start to the season is a positive one. “
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