Barnsley fans have been left scratching their heads today after the club cancelled a friendly against Guiseley.
The Tykes had been due to kick off their pre-season campaign with a trip to Guiseley on Tuesday night, a potentially significant fixture for the Northern Premier League side. However, news has broken this morning of the cancellation, leaving the Lions hunting for another opponent to get their teeth into.
The fixture wasn’t to be the Tykes’ first pre-season game – that happens today against AFC Fylde behind closed doors. Two more of their pre-season fixtures are also behind closed doors, so this was a rare chance for the fans to see the new squad in action. No reason was given by Barnsley when announcing the cancellation, but Guiseley did divulge information, and it doesn’t shine a positive light on the beaten play-off finalists.
❌ | Our friendly with @BarnsleyFC on Tuesday night has been cancelled after our opponents informed us that they cannot raise a team.
— Guiseley AFC (@GuiseleyAFC) July 7, 2023
Guiseley have claimed their opponents were ‘unable to raise a side’ to compete in the fixture, despite this afternoon’s game against Fylde. The statement did conclude a new date could be set, but at present, there’s nothing set in stone. It’s a blow for Paul Phillips’ team – Barnsley were their headline pre-season fixture, with Scarborough, Avro, Spennymoor, Farsley Celtic and Brighouse completing their pre-season campaign.
It’s also a blow to Tykes fans, who have limited opportunity to see the team, and new manager Neill Collins, for the first time. They have no home pre-season friendlies planned, with a yet-t0-be-announced game behind closed doors next weekend, and the same against Championship side Blackburn on July 22nd. The only matches at which fans can see the team are away at Hull City on the 18th and away at Mansfield Town on 25th, both midweek fixtures.
Should Barnsley fans be worried a game is being cancelled in early July because they can’t raise a team? What message does that send to their supporters about the state of the squad?
‘Can’t raise a team’ sounds dramatic, and it’s certainly prompted a response on social media, but there’s likely more than meets the eye to the decision. Neill Collins is fresh into the club, and it’s believed he wants their Under 18s and Under 23s, the players most likely to make up the team that visited Nethermoor Park, to train with the first team. That would mean they wouldn’t have a squad of 16 or so to put out against Guiseley.
However, it is also incredibly irresponsible of Barnsley, who perhaps do not understand the importance of the fixture to Guiseley’s players and supporters. This writer is a Lincoln City fan, and I recall us having a friendly cancelled at short notice by Nottingham Forest – it was only meant to be their Under 23s, but at the time, we were in non-league, and there was a buzz at seeing a ‘proper’ professional club and the cream of their young players on display.
Football League clubs have a responsibility to fulfil fixtures they commit to if there’s no valid reason for not doing. We’re not in Covid times anymore, and this is poor form from the Tykes.