Doncaster banned from training on pitch

Doncaster Rovers have been banned from training on their own stadium’s pitch in preparation for their Championship clash with Cardiff City this weekend.

Sean O'Driscoll's side, currently languishing in 20th in the Championship, hoped to train on the Keepmoat Stadium pitch the day prior to hosting promotion chasing Cardiff on Saturday, but were refused permission to do so by the management company which regulates the use of the ground.

An official statement on the club’s website read: "The Stadium Management Company (SMC), the company that runs the Keepmoat Stadium, have refused a request by Doncaster Rovers manager Sean O’Driscoll to train on the main pitch on Friday, in preparation for the Championship fixture against Cardiff City on Saturday April 9.

"No reason for the bizarre and unhelpful decision has been given, other than it would not be fair on the Dons rugby league club.

"After we talked to the Dons, the rugby league club said they had no problem with Doncaster Rovers’ request.

"At a time when the club is coming to the end of a difficult season, it is bizarre that the SMC should choose to be as obstructive and unhelpful as this.

"Doncaster Rovers have trained on the pitch on numerous occasions previously without a problem."

Whether this move will significantly hinder Rovers’ preparation for this weekend’s match remains to be seen, but the club’s chief executive Dave Morris was quick to condemn the SMC’s decision.

"I think this shows that the people who run this stadium are not concerned with the key partners within it and do not understand how important this could be," he said.

"It also proves the point that people who so obviously do not understand how sport works should not be put in charge of a sports stadium.

"This is an embarrassment and is a purely spiteful decision made by Shane Chalmers [SMC's CEO]. It appears it can be for no reason other than to disrupt the teams’ preparation."

Rovers’ fans have also been vociferous in their criticism of the decision, with one fan even suggesting a boycott of the stadium’s hospitality facilities in protest.

"I thought this was a community stadium, well I’m part of the community as are the thousands of others who support the Rovers and this is unacceptable," he said.

"I think the fans should get together and boycott the bars, kiosks etc before the match because that income is not the Rovers. Try to hit them where it hurts. Maybe businesses should also think about supporting the club by not using the stadium for events etc.

"We can’t let them get away with this. It’s ridiculous."

By Liam Twomey