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Dover Athletic chairman Jim Parmenter blasts decision to call OFF their scheduled National League match against Notts County

Furious Dover chairman Jim Parmenter says the club will be making a formal complaint over the decision to call off tonight's scheduled match against Notts County.

The news was announced just before 2.30pm, despite the pitch having passed an earlier pitch inspection, with Parmenter describing the decision as "an absolute disgrace."

Dover chairman Jim Parmenter. Picture: Tony Flashman
Dover chairman Jim Parmenter. Picture: Tony Flashman

The fixture had initially been due to be played on Saturday, January 8, but was called off just hours before kick-off following heavy rain, with County expressing their frustration after the late postponement.

"It’s unbelievable," Parmenter told the club website of the latest postponement to the fixture.

"It’s inconceivable to me how somebody sitting in an office in London can call a game off where the pitch has just been inspected by a referee at 12.30pm and has been passed as easily playable.

"Then at 2.15pm, the game is called off by somebody, sitting in an office in London in conjunction, apparently, with Mark Ives, the general manager of the National League.

"One minute, they (the National League) are charging us for not completing fixtures. The next minute, they are calling off fixtures unnecessarily and preventing us from completing fixtures.

"This can only be due to undue pressure from Notts County on the authorities because we had the pitch inspected by a referee - it was perfectly playable.

"They said it’s because of the weather forecast. I have got the weather forecast here and, from 3pm onwards, it’s sunny intervals and light showers. So you tell me how somebody sitting in an office 500 miles north of here can say whether a game can be on or off.

"It’s an absolute disgrace - and we will be making a formal complaint about this!"

Parmenter also said manager Andy Hessenthaler was surprised to be told the match had been called off upon his arrival at Crabble.

He added: "The manager has just been out on the pitch and he can’t believe the game has been called off.

"He thought we were joking. It’s just inconceivable. I have never known a game (being) called off anywhere because of a weather forecast and a perception of what might happen in five or six hours' time.

"There are no hurricanes being forecast - it’s rain shower! It’s just unbelievable.

"It just shows us what a state this level is in at the moment."

Notts County have responded to the postponement in a statement of their own, though.

They say they understand Dover had arranged for a referee from the Kent FA to conduct a provisional pitch inspection at 11am - but the official then was no longer available to do so at this time.

County chief executive Jason Turner informed the match referee he "wasn’t comfortable" with their club's fans heading to Kent from Nottingham without another inspection taking place, so the National League arranged for a 12.30pm pitch inspection.

The statement from the Magpies continued: "Having received no communication from Dover regarding the outcome of said inspection, Turner called their club secretary at 1pm and was categorically assured that the pitch had been deemed perfectly playable and that the appointed official had no concerns about the match going ahead.

"Turner informed Dover that this information would be communicated immediately via our digital channels to help supporters make what we believed would have been an informed decision as to whether to travel, with the assurance that we would maintain dialogue with all parties in the event of a change in circumstances.

"The next communication received by Turner came from the match referee at 2.10pm, informing him that based on the pitch inspection report and weather forecast, he had decided to postpone the match.

"It is clear, therefore, that Dover’s communication to us following the inspection was either misjudged or misleading."

County also responded specifically to Parmenter's claim the postponement can only have come as a result of "undue pressure" from Notts County.

The Magpies said: "While we firmly stand by our decision to ask questions of Dover regarding the condition of their pitch and of the National League to arrange an earlier inspection, this was simply to ensure that our supporters were provided with the best possible information before deciding whether or not to travel.

"We vehemently reject Parmenter’s inference that we were seeking for the match to be postponed.

"Not only have we, once again, incurred considerable team travel and hotel costs, but this week’s training schedule has now been severely affected. We have already experienced severe disruption to our season for various reasons and were desperate to play this evening’s match and continue the momentum we have built in our back-to-back wins over Barnet and Halifax."

Dover visit high-flying FC Halifax this weekend.

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