PNE boss critical of new cup date

Preston North End's Manager Graham Westley
Preston North End's Manager Graham Westley
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Graham Westley has criticised the decision to play Preston North End’s rearranged JPT tie against Bury on December 18.

The game was postponed less than an hour before kick-off last Tuesday night because of a waterlogged Gigg Lane pitch.

North End had requested the game be played on January 8 - the scheduled date for the area semi-finals.

They wanted to avoid December 18 as Westley, his coaching staff and some of the PNE squad wish to attend the funeral of former Stevenage player Mitchell Cole which takes place the day before.

But the Football League have ordered the game to go ahead on December 18.

Speaking at his Thursday morning press conference at Deepdale, Westley said: “There is a much bigger issue I think to the December 18 date than meets the eye.

“When the game was postponed on Tuesday, Peter Ridsdale spoke to Kevin Blackwell that the 18th wasn’t a date we wanted.

“We did agree on the night that January 8 would be the date we would go for.

“The reason is that Mitchell Cole’s funeral is on December 17 and my intention and that of my management staff and some of the players here was to be present at the funeral.

“We spoke to Bury and spoke to the Football League but our request disrespectfully was declined.

“I feel very sour about that.

“If it was at the top level, we would see a postponement and things done in the right way.

“Bury slept on the matter overnight after Tuesday, then the following morning said they would write to us and ask for the game to go ahead on December 18.

“They had understood the issue face to face the night before, but they changed their mind overnight.

“The Football League has power of veto and have gone with Bury and ordered that it played on December 18 despite our polite request.”