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Clermont accuse Saracens of 'incompetence' over postponed European fixture

Clermont claim they were not consulted by Saracens over the decision to postpone by their Champions Cup fixture. Warren Little/Getty Images

Clermont have accused Saracens of "incompetence" and claimed they were cut out of negotiations over the rescheduling of their Champions Cup Pool 2 match in a strongly-worded statement released just hours before the rearranged fixture is due to kick off.

According to the Top 14 side what should have been "a feast of rugby" has descended into "another episode of amateurism," following the decision to postpone the fixture due to adverse weather in north London.

The game -- a repeat of last season's Champions Cup final -- was called off Sunday morning, around four hours before it was scheduled to kick off, amid public safety fears in the areas surrounding Allianz Park. It was subsequently rearranged for Monday, to be played behind closed doors at 5.30 p.m. (GMT), although Saracens have since confirmed it will be open to fans with valid tickets.

A post published on the official Clermont website at 11.50 a.m. (GMT) Monday insisted that the French champions had not been involved in the decision to call off the opening match of a double-header, or in follow-up talks about its rescheduling but said they would use the episode as motivation.

"[Clermont] was not invited to the negotiating table and has had to adapt to the incompetence of local authorities and Saracens in organising this major sporting event," the statement read.

"In the end, for a little more than 10 centimetres of snow, the organisation of this meeting was ridiculous and absurd. Staff and players are deeply upset by the lack of interest in their fans throughout the weekend and will use that an extra source of motivation."

Clermont claimed players and staff were informed that the match would be postponed at 10 a.m. Sunday -- and spent the rest of the day waiting for news of when it would be rescheduled.

Yet it was another six hours before officials were told the match would kick off at 5.30 p.m, according to the French club, giving them little time to adapt training and nutrition programmes. "In the meantime we had to charter a plane for those members of the party who had to return to France for personal or professional reasons," the statement continued.

The club noted that other Champions Cup and professional football matches within a 30 kilometre radius of the ground went ahead as scheduled.

By the time Clermont were informed of the early evening kick off, the club claims many of its players had gone to bed. It would be later still that Clermont were informed that Allianz Park would be open to the public, long after hundreds of disappointed fans had headed home.

Earlier furious club president Eric de Cromières told regional newspaper La Montagne: "This new schedule will put our team at a considerable disadvantage, especially in view of the return leg, since we will not return home after the game until 2 a.m. (CET) on Tuesday, before playing again on Sunday.

"I'm furious! There was no meeting between the clubs, EPCR and the police. We have had no explanation, no elements to understand the ins and outs. It's very, very mismanaged. If necessary, we will consider bringing the case before other bodies."