Western Sydney Wanderers clash with Wellington Phoenix has been postponed just two days before game day due to the poor state of the pitch and concerns for player safety.
Football Federation Australia made the late decision on Thursday to postpone the match after areas on the sideline and in the corners of the field were deemed unplayable after summer grass failed to grow in time for the game.
Major patches of dirt and sand scarred the playing field at Spotless Stadium after the seasonal transition from winter grass to summer grass did not grow within the expected time frame due to poor weather in Sydney. It was deemed the state of the field would pose a risk to player welfare with the lack of grass in certain areas exposing players to injury.
Head of the A-League Greg O'Rourke made the decision after inspecting the field. Wellington were due to travel to Sydney on Friday for Saturday's game.
"We understand that the surface at Spotless Stadium is going through a seasonal transition from rye [winter] grass, which has been sprayed out as per the annual schedule, to couch [summer] grass," O'Rourke said. "Unfortunately some sections of the surface have not regenerated as hoped due to recent cooler weather and as a result the surface is not consistent to the standard we require."
It is understood the FFA and Western Sydney Wanderers decided to postpone the match instead of changing venues as the late notice would have made it logistically difficult to find an alternate stadium. A Wanderers spokesman suggested the grass was expected to grow in time for Saturday's game but poor weather prevented that. There was a possibility of a re-configuration of the playing pitch, moving the goals from the north and south ends to east and west. However, a realignment would not have been suitable for broadcasters as there were insufficient camera angles provided at the other ends of the stadium.
"We discussed this issue with both clubs, the venue and Fox Sports and we agreed to postpone the match to a later date. A decision to when the match will be scheduled will be made in the near future," O'Rourke said.
Meanwhile, John Aloisi knows how quickly the A-League ladder can change and is confident his winless Brisbane Roar can start moving up it with Friday night's clash against Melbourne City. "Everyone knows it's not the start we wanted, [but] we still know we can turn it around," he said on Thursday.