Welwyn Garden City angry after Watford withdraw from friendly

Watford
Watford are getting ready for a fourth successive season in the Premier League

Welwyn Garden City say Watford's decision to withdraw from a friendly at late notice is an example of "clubs at the elite level having no interest in the way grassroots clubs function".

Watford were due to send their under-23s to the non-league club on Saturday.

Welwyn Garden City claim Watford told them at 14:00 BST on Friday - one day before it was due to take place - they could not field a side.

"We're sad, disappointed and angry," said a Welwyn Garden City statement.

"Watford FC have conducted themselves in such a poor manner and with such naivety as to what this means for Welwyn Garden City FC.

"Everyone at WGC FC feel completely let down."

Picture of a Welwyn Garden City FC tweet: "We are really pleased and thankful that Watford director of football Andy Scott has personally taken the time this morning to contact our manager and offer the club's sincere apologies and that they will work with us in the coming days to support us with any loss incurred."
On Saturday morning Welwyn said Watford had been in contact to apologise.

Welwyn Garden City, who play in the Southern League Division One Central, were hoping for a crowd of up to 400 for the match.

The part-time club said they had paid for match officials, hospitality and programmes for the game. After a "desperate search" for replacement opposition, the club announced on Saturday that they would be playing Knebworth FC of the Hertfordshire Senior County League.

Meanwhile, a Watford side beat West Ham's Under-23s 2-1 in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Friday.

The Hornets' first team are due to play a friendly against Italian side Sampdoria on Saturday at Vicarage Road.

A statue of Graham Taylor, Watford's former manager who died in January 2017, will be unveiled before the game.

Watford fan Stuart Levy posted on social media about the Welwyn Garden City postponement: "On the face of it, extremely poor form this. Ironic that this has occurred when we celebrate all things GT and this is the last thing he would ever have allowed to happen."

The BBC has contacted Watford for a comment but is yet to receive a reply.

Picture of a tweet by Watford fan Rory O'Sullivan: "As a Watford fan from Welwyn Garden City I am so disappointed in my club. Irony is that tomorrow is Graham Taylor matchday at Watford. We all know how Taylor respected the local communities."
Picture of a tweet by Marc Trainis: "Watford FC should be made to compensate the club for the costs incurred and made to play them later in the season as a gesture of goodwill. This is not on less than 24 hours before the game."
Picture of a tweet by Mike Jones: "Disgusting. Watford should compensate or at least send a youth team. I'm sure even an under-17 team would be better than nothing."

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