Joey Barton makes a controversial Havant & Waterlooville decision ahead of the pre-season friendly with them later this month.
Bristol Rovers’s game with the National League South outfit next week has been postponed and instead rescheduled at the Memorial Stadium.
This is all because Joey Barton had concerns over the non league outfit’s pitch at the Draper Tools Community Stadium, so now it won’t host the fixture on Tuesday the 13th of July.
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The match was agreed as part of the deal that saw the Hawks wave goodbye to Jonah Ayunga after he made a switch to the newly relegated club 12 months ago.
Fast forward to today and Barton finds himself unhappy and not keen to play the match at Havant after only just discovering the side’s home ground has an artificial pitch.
Barton does not want his team potentially risking getting injured on an astro turf surface, something that hasn’t exactly been an issue for Havant, clubs at that level or those within the professional game who come to visit grounds with this type of pitch.
Therefore, he has rearranged the friendly for Tuesday the 27th of July at the Memorial Stadium, the League Two club’s home ground.
“I don’t think we’re going to be playing Havant,” Barton told Bristol Live.
“I found out last week they play on astro turf and I will not be risking our players on astro turf, I think it’s too dangerous.
“The friendly was put in as part of Jonah’s deal, and that’s going to be a tricky one to handle politically but I just can’t risk any of our players on astro turf.”
Bristol Rovers’ friendly with Havant and Waterlooville next week has been rescheduled for later in July at the Memorial Stadium after Joey Barton had concerns over the Hawks’ pitch #LocalFootball #NonLeague HampshireLive https://t.co/mbmoO0HNCz
— PompeyNewsNow🎙PO4cast 🏴 (@PompeyNewsNow) July 7, 2021
While Barton is not keen to play at Havant and Waterlooville, he was keen to honour the game as part of the agreement involving Ayunga with the club.
Even if Barton’s team were forced to play at the Draper Tools Community Stadium as planned, he would have not sent a squad of senior players to Hampshire.
“If they want to play it on grass, I’ll play it but we can’t afford any setbacks at this point because fitness is key,” the Gas boss continued.
“If we have to honour the fixture, it may well be a very young team that goes and plays that game, but it certainly won’t be the seniors.”
Havant and Waterlooville said: “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused to our loyal supporters.
“All those who have already purchased tickets will automatically be issued with refunds tomorrow.
“We are extremely grateful to @salisburyfootballclub for rearranging our friendly with them to Tuesday 20th July.”
Meanwhile, the Hawks are to host Danny Cowley’s Portsmouth on the 10th of July as part of their pre-season campaign… and without demands to have it at a different venue over pitch concerns.
Paul Doswell said: “It’s become part of the pre-season calendar for both clubs over the last fifteen years, and is always a very special occasion for this football club. I’ve spoken to Danny Cowley about the closeness of the two clubs and were looking to take the relationship even further. I honestly believe with the Cowley’s in charge very exciting times are ahead for the Portsmouth fans, and I’m sure there will be plenty of new faces for them to see on the 10th July.”
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Fans reacted as Joey Barton makes a controversial Havant & Waterlooville decision ahead of two sides’ friendly with each other…
@di1cox: Awful news for those #LoyalSupporters who had already bought tickets. Honestly pissed me off this, I wanted a tick. Pathetic @HWFCOfficial.
@DanielShepps: Can’t tick off the Havant ground now
@SamCope96: When you sign Ayunga and are contractually obligated to play a friendly with them regardless of pitch material 👀
@darrell_ben: Great news. At least we won’t have to play on that terrible pitch they have. UTG
@bigdylHTF: That sounds tempting, are fans allowed?
@The_Hawks_Fans: Bristol Rovers away is it? Oh go on then 👍🍺🚂
Claire Brooks: bit harsh on those who bought tickets
Jenny Bell: Claire Brooks bloody Nora. Bloody looking forward to next tues. our Alice booked her ticket today & Andy sorted his work around it 😓😤ffs
Rob Shellard: What a shame
Will Lewis: Oh here we go, sparks the debate of the use over artificial pitches again, funny how I see no other side complaining, typical of Barton
Owen Hoskins: You’d think someone would have done their research properly before making the friendly
Tim Pollard: What a piss take
Fearne Atkins: Well that’s me unable to go now, trust them to get all my hopes up, then Barton goes and spoil it all
Harry Fletcher: Blimey, they left this one late
Darren Davis: Noooo, just as I was looking forward to getting to this game, can’t attend it now
Hayley Harley: Why oh why 😢😢
Barry Finn: fuck Havan and their stupid pitch
Eddie Timmins: I hate artificial pitches every time I’ve played on one I come off covered in blood and burns
Tom Barkley: one less reason for Barton to blame on losing the game lol
Derek Ainsworth: Sounds a bit petty tbh, I’m still astonished that the EFL don’t accept them, yet it’s allowed and without issue for those qualifying in the Champions and Europa League
Cal Connor: Westleigh Park needs to get rid of that pitch and bring in a proper playing surface