How events unfolded on our abandoned matchdayWe have arranged for our rescheduled fixture against Fulham to take place on Tuesday 24th January, kicking off at 8pm at Madejski Stadium, after the match officials took the decision to abandon the original fixture on December 30th due to a severe bout of heavy fog.
To reiterate, and in accordance with EFL rules, clubs are not permitted to take the decision to postpone or abandon a match, and it is regrettable that the timing of the officials' decision was inconvenient for so many home and away supporters.
Our T&Cs state that in the event of an abandoned game, match ticket holders are entitled to half price tickets for the rearranged match. But as a gesture of goodwill, on this occasion we have ensured that all Season Ticket and match ticket holders who attended the original fixture are able to get a free ticket to the rearranged game.
It is just the second time in Madejski Stadium's history (and the first time since 2003) that we have had a game called off mid-match! And, for the sake of transparency and to dispel any erroneous misconceptions, below is a full timeline of events as they transpired on the evening of the game.
11.35am: Reading tweet an early picture of the fog at the stadium, along with information from the weather forecast which had suggested the fog would clear during the early afternoon. Soon after, the Met Office release Yellow Warning for fog in effect until 4pm.
5pm: Match Officials meet on the Madejski Stadium pitch with the Safety Officer and Stadium Manager to discuss visibility criteria for match to be played. The outcome was that the visibility was judged to be okay and that the match officials’ requirement was to be able to see from touchline to touchline. That was satisfied and the match could go ahead.
5.15pm: Reading tweet confirmation that officials are happy for the game to go ahead based on the current conditions at the stadium.
8pm: The fog persists, but the game kicks off as planned.
8.35pm: The referee halts play to discuss the fog situation with the managers and assistants referees, and the game is deemed playable. The fourth official requests to meet with the safety officer at half-time to discuss crowd safety issues.
8.40pm: The game is halted again by the referee to discuss again with the managers, but the game is allowed to continue.
8.51pm: The referee signals for half-time.
8.52pm: The Safety Officer, accompanied by the Stadium Manager and Club Secretary, attend the Match Officials’ dressing room at half time. Thames Valley Police Officer also makes himself available if required. Also present are the referee, the assistants referees, fourth official and referee’s assessor.
The Safety Officer confirms there are no crowd safety issues and shows CCTV images are okay. The referee advises he is satisfied with his visibility in the centre of the pitch and he can see what was going on.
The two assistants referees are both adamant they cannot carry out their job to the best of their ability – they cannot make judgments on offsides or fouls and at times are unable to see the ball and the players on the far side of the pitch.
The referee’s assessor states that if a team was to win the match due to a bad call by the assistant then this would be unacceptable with so much at stake between two teams challenging for Championship places.
The Police Officer is consulted about public order issues and insists that if a match is to be abandoned at all, then at 0-0 there will be a lower risk of public order issues.
A change of kit is suggested for Fulham as the darker shirts they were wearing became one of the issues with visibility, but the referee rejects this idea.
9.01pm: The referee heads out to the tunnel to check if conditions have improved, and he returns to say they have not. The two managers are called in and advised of the decision to abandon the fixture. Reading’s manager states that we would have been happy to continue but that he respects the decision that if the assistants cannot carry out their job then it is understandable. The meeting ends and the appropriate measures to abandon the match are immediately put in place.
9.04pm: The match is announced as abandoned over the PA system and via social media channels.
With no time to give any advance warning to stewards or bus drivers, there was inevitable disruption with the bus services away from the ground and traffic was naturally very congested. However, as a club, we wanted to inform all supporters of the officials' decision to abandon the game as soon as possible and then our priority was to enable all fans to leave the stadium safely and begin their journey home. Hospitality and the concourses remained open to supporters who wanted to wait for the traffic to alleviate before leaving.