More than 50 non-league football matches in England have been postponed due to the fuel shortages that are rampant across the UK, and the fear is that the crisis could impact top-level sport if it continues.
The Isthmian and Southern Leagues, which are just one below the National League, have been ravaged by the ongoing situation, with scores of midweek games in those divisions and those below waved off due to an inability to travel.
One of the Isthmian League clubs affected is East Thurrock United, whose general manager Phil Crowe confirmed that he didn’t want to ‘pressure’ his players into travelling to take on Margate tonight.
“The coach company we use have access to fuel, that’s not the issue. The big problem for us was getting players to the coach,” he told the BBC.
“We were due to leave at 4pm, so with increased traffic problems based on people trying to get fuel, we just deemed it an unnecessary pressure to our players and the team on the Tuesday night.”
Horse racing could also be affected by the supply woes, with some transportation firms warning of a lack of fuel in the days ahead.
You wouldn’t think that a shortage of petrol and diesel would bring elite-level sport to its knees, but with more and more fuel stations and garages forced to close – and supermarket pumps displaying ‘out of gas’ signs – it might be an inevitability unless the government can source some HGV drivers….and pronto.
48 Hours to Go
One of the primary haulage firms that serves the Newmarket area has told the Racing Post that they have 48 hours’ worth of fuel….after that, all bets are off – literally, if racing cannot continue.
Newmarket Racehorse Transport, who are responsible for taking more than 150 horses to tracks across the land, have revealed that after the 48-hour period is up there could be significant issues for their supply chain.
“It’s not dire straits but it does have ramifications for the racing industry,” said the firm’s director, Jason Richardson.
“A lot of trainers have their own boxes, and a few have been on the phone asking if we have access to fuel.
“All of our vehicles are full and we’ve got access to fuel for the next 48 hours. We’ve taken horses up to Newcastle today and the tanks are large enough to virtually get us back to Newmarket, but obviously we’re hoping to find somewhere to fill them up again en route.
“It’s never easy to plan at the best of times, as it’s a busy time of the year without having the added stress of this shortage.”
At the time of writing, there hadn’t been any cancelled racing meetings, with Monday’s postponement at Hamilton die to heavy rain rather than travel chaos. The numbers of non-runners was also around the standard number expected for early week racing.
That said, some trainers are having to be cautious in their approach for the week ahead, with the Lambourn based Harry Dunlop revealing he has had second thoughts about sending a team north to Chester with the uncertainty ongoing.