Leyton Orient manager Richie Wellens has criticised the EFL’s decision to replay their home fixture against Lincoln City following the abandonment of the original match where lifelong O’s supporter Derek Reynolds tragically passed away in the 83rd minute.
Orient led the Imps deep into the second half at Brisbane Road on October 3rd courtesy of Joe Piggot’s early first half goal and were in cruise control of the game until the game had to be abandoned after 74-year-old Derek suffered a cardiac arrest in the crowd. Whilst hours of medical treatment were given in an attempt to save his life, sadly it was not enough.
Despite extraordinary circumstances and the fact that the East London outfit were well on their way to three points before the heartbreaking incident, the EFL ruled a fortnight later for the game to be replayed in full.
Speaking to official club media ahead of tomorrow night’s rearranged game, Wellens argued that he believe that the previous result should have stood, “out of respect for Derek and his family”, and they should not have to go through the traumatic fixture in which he passed away again.
He also called for a new rule to be in place where in unimaginable cases such as this, the result of a fixture should stand even if 90 minutes had not been completed upon abandonment. Continuing, the former Swindon Town boss expressed his surprise as to how there are not already procedures in place, stating: “It’s frightening that there is no rule in place at the moment.”
There is a case to be made that Tuesday’s clash will be a completely different game to the first, with Lincoln sacking manager Mark Kennedy since the original clash and recently replacing him with former Leeds United coach Micheal Skubala.
Whilst it seems that more could have been done to prevent a replay of the game tomorrow, Wellens’ comments will spread important awareness and ask the question of the EFL to have a process in place for dealing with an extraordinary circumstance like this. In doing so, there is a hope that action will be taken to make sure that when the two teams walk out under the floodlights tomorrow evening, it will be the last time in which a game will have to be replayed after a tragic, traumatic incident in the crowd.
Everyone at The Real EFL wishes Derek’s family well and both teams will hold a minute’s silence prior to kick-off to remember a loyal, lifelong Leyton Orient supporter, Derek Reynolds.
The pre-match interview by Wellens for the replay on Tuesday brought with it a very important message. In this case it is too late to find a more fitting solution than replaying the game in full after Derek’s passing, but more needs to be done so that if something similar happens in the future, there are processes in place in which a more suitable conclusion can be drawn.
Hopefully, the EFL will never be put in a situation like this again, but Wellens is correct in his assessment.