Omer Riza: EFL came up with solution to ensure Leyton Orient’s game with Colchester United was completed
PUBLISHED: 20:03 29 April 2017 | UPDATED: 20:03 29 April 2017
Simon O'Connor Photography
The 37-year-old reflects on the decision to finish the match at Brisbane Road with O’s rivals behind closed doors
Leyton Orient boss Omer Riza revealed the English Football League (EFL) came up with a plan to confirm the game had been abandoned in order to clear the pitch for the match with Colchester United to be finished.
The U’s were leading 3-1 at Brisbane Road in the 85th minute when a flare was thrown onto the pitch and it led to hundreds of O’s supporters running on.
Despite repeated requests, Orient fans failed to be moved and only left after the game was confirmed as ‘abandoned’ over the tannoy at 5.47pm.
But, once the supporters had left the stadium, the pitch was cleared by club staff and play got back underway at 6.40pm.
The two teams played the final five minutes plus additional time with what could only be described as a keep-ball session.
It concluded another bizarre day at Brisbane Road with O’s eventually suffering their 18th home loss of the campaign.
Riza said: “The EFL came down and spoke with the officials and both managers and we had to come up with a plan and agreement to get the game on because nobody wanted to come back next week to play eight minutes.
“The only way we were going to be able to disperse the fans was to say the match had been cancelled and then the fans left. It was a solution that the EFL came up with and we went along with it.”
Orient’s manager went on to admit he felt it was the right decision to finish off the game rather than get it completed later in the week.
“Anything can happen at Leyton Orient at the moment, so we have got it sorted and we move on to next week now,” said Riza.
“I think it was right that the match was finished and not abandoned and that was the rules we had to abide by.
“If we didn’t finish it now, then we would have all had to come back later in the week to play the final eight minutes.
“It wouldn’t have been good for us or Colchester, so it was the right thing to clear the pitch and wait for however long we had to in order to get it finished.”
An EFL statement published shortly after the match, read: “The Sky Bet League Two fixture between Leyton Orient and Colchester United has been concluded behind closed doors.
“The decision to play the match to a conclusion was agreed with both managers and with the support of the match officials. The Police and stadium security staff were happy for the match to restart and this took place at approximately 6.40pm.
“Despite requests for the fans to clear the pitch, there wasn’t sufficient movement to allow the game to restart following a pitch invasion. A decision was taken with the Police to announce that the game had been abandoned, as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct.
“However, it was deemed appropriate that the game needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition and in respect of Colchester United’s position of being able to qualify for the Sky Bet League Two Play-Offs.”