Main » 2008 » January » 2 » Wilkie rages at SPL match ruling
12:09:18 PM
Wilkie rages at SPL match ruling
Wilkie rages at SPL match ruling
Dundee United defender Lee Wilkie
Wilkie is unhappy Dundee United and Hearts are being "forced" to play
Lee Wilkie has called SPL chiefs "stupid and arrogant" for ordering Dundee United's league match against Hearts to go ahead on Wednesday.

The defender believes the game should have been postponed following the death of Motherwell's Phil O'Donnell, just after Saturday's match with United.

Wilkie said: "It is a joke and an absolute embarrassment that we are being made to play.

"The match means nothing when you consider the recent tragic event."

O'Donnell collapsed towards the end of Motherwell's match against Dundee United at Fir Park on Saturday and he later died of heart failure.

United boss Craig Levein spoke to his players during training on Tuesday and it was considered they were in no fit state to face Hearts.

Chairman Eddie Thompson contacted the SPL to request a postponement of the game but was told that it had to go ahead.

The matches between Aberdeen and Inverness CT, and Kilmarnock and Falkirk will also be played.

But the SPL have agreed to Celtic's request to postpone their match against Rangers, which was also scheduled for Wednesday.

Wilkie said: "Surely if Celtic can call their game off, so can we and that's what our players wanted.

Phil was a very fit guy. Sometimes the fitter you are the bigger the time bomb waiting to go off
Gary Caldwell

"Ideally, the SPL should have called off all the fixtures as a mark of respect.

"It's hard to focus on a game of football when you've seen something so tragic happen to a fellow professional."

SPL secretary Iain Blair described Wilkie's remarks as "an understandable and emotional response" but defended the decision for three matches to go ahead on Wednesday, and says the organisation has made a balanced judgment.

"Obviously, the tragic events of Saturday evening have hit everyone hard," he said.

"The games that have been postponed are games where there has been a direct link to Phil and to Motherwell.

"What we want to do with the games that are going ahead is to provide an opportunity for Scottish football to come together and show its respect and honour for Phil.

"We've asked for a minute's applause to be held before each of the games today. All of the players will be wearing black armbands.

"We want the games themselves to be a mark of respect for an excellent professional footballer."

"In situations like this, there are no easy answers. If there are people who feel we should have made a different decision, then I fully respect their right to hold that view."

Meanwhile, Celtic defender Gary Caldwell has urged the SPL to conduct an urgent medical review of the effects of supplements and energy drinks used by players.

He is concerned that the pressure on players to perform could mean they are risking their health with the supplements they use to enhance their fitness.

He said: "Phil was a very fit guy. Sometimes the fitter you are the bigger the time bomb waiting to go off.

"There should be investigations into the supplements and energy drinks people take to get the best out of themselves.

"I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it or if there are other factors, but if you look at the amount of incidents recently it can't just be a coincidence."

Four months ago Seville's Antonio Puerta died after suffering a heart attack during a match against Getafe. He was only 23 years old.

In August, Sunderland's 27-year-old defender Clive Clarke suffered two heart attacks during half-time of the Carling Cup tie at Nottingham Forest when playing on loan for Leicester.

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