MARK CATLIN has defended the ‘logical’ decision to switch next week’s Checkatrade Trophy fixture to Fratton Park.
Pompey were drawn to face Chelsea under-21s at Stamford Bridge in the third round of the much-maligned competition.
The Checkatrade Trophy has had enough beatings. I think to then maybe hold it at a venue of a non-league club would have even further put the boot in on the competitionMark Catlin
However, before Christmas it was announced it would instead take place at Fratton Park.
That match will be staged on Tuesday (7.45pm), representing the next game for Kenny Jackett’s side, who are not in action this weekend.
And Catlin believes the venue change was the correct outcome as Chelsea battle fixture congestion.
Pompey’s chief executive said: ‘It is obviously difficult for Chelsea. They are currently involved in the Champions League, challenging for a top-four finish in the Premier League, are in the Carabao Cup with two legs and still in the FA Cup.
‘On top of that they still have to find space in the Checkatrade Trophy, so it’s a difficult situation for them to be in.
‘The tie was originally meant to be at Stamford Bridge but we were waiting on their result in the Carabao Cup, which didn’t work out favourably.
‘In order of preferences, the FA Cup takes priority, the Carabao Cup takes second priority and third comes the Checkatrade. That is just how it is, that’s the rules.
‘Chelsea couldn’t give us a definitive date. There were talks of having it the following Tuesday, that was then dependent on their FA Cup draw.
‘However, you want certainty for the fans and for the players so they know they’re going to be playing on a date with as much notice as possible – and I didn’t feel it was right hanging on.
‘The other option was to maybe hold it somewhere else. Chelsea’s reserves play at Aldershot and although that was never discussed, I never wanted it to get to that stage, so Fratton Park seemed logical.
‘The Checkatrade Trophy has had enough beatings. I think to then maybe hold it at a venue of a non-league club would have even further put the boot in on the competition, so it was better to have it at Fratton Park.’
Pompey were scheduled to face Fleetwood in a League One encounter on Saturday.
However, that was scrapped as the Cod Army are still involved in the FA Cup, with a trip to Premier League Leicester City.
It means the Blues have a free weekend ahead of attempts to progress in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Jackett’s men are next in league action on Saturday, January 13 with the visit of Scunthorpe.