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Norwich City floodlight failure: So what happened and what's been learned?

PUBLISHED: 16:44 30 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:00 30 December 2018

When the lights go out... One corner of Carrow Road is without floodlights after a power surge knocks out a fuse during Norwich City's Championship clash with Derby. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

When the lights go out... One corner of Carrow Road is without floodlights after a power surge knocks out a fuse during Norwich City's Championship clash with Derby. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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We all saw the Carrow Road floodlights fail and we know what happened next as Norwich City lost out to Derby - but the big question is why?

It was on 81 minutes that Teemu Pukki gave the Canaries a 3-2 lead over promotion rivals Derby – and to the second, a fuse failed in the floodlight pylon at the corner where the River End and Geoffrey Watling City stands meet.

This was believed to be due to a power surge, leaving club staff to dash across the stadium to fetch a replacement fuse that was installed within five minutes.

Following the usual warm-up time of between five and 10 minutes, the stadium lights were back to full power.

THE REFEREE’S CALL

Norwich City celebrate Teemu Pukki's 81st minute strike against Derby - just as the offending floodlight fails at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesNorwich City celebrate Teemu Pukki's 81st minute strike against Derby - just as the offending floodlight fails at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

It was referee David Webb’s decision over whether to take the players off the pitch – one made in consultation with both managers and not for player safety, but primarily because of uncertainty.

The official had to be sure the reduced light levels would not affect the ground’s goalline technology and cameras. He got those answers reasonably swiftly, but also after the new fuse was in place.

By that time, it was deemed sensible to wait for the full complement of floodlights to return and play the remainder of the game in the same environment as the first 81 minutes.

IF ONLY

Going down to two working pylons or fewer would have prevented the game continuing but as it happens, it was always perfectly fine to continue with three.

No doubt that information will now be bound in new and easily accessible Carrow Road protocols to ensure the referee can make his informed decision within seconds, not several minutes.

It’s a tough one to take of course, but there is mitigation. Goalline technology is still so new – as is City’s floodlight system, which was only upgraded to new Premier League lighting requirements in 2015.

And of course, floodlight failures are rare. A pre-season friendly in 2011 was Carrow Road’s last incident, with cup games in 2003 and 1979 the previous competitive failures that come to supporters’ minds.

The checks and maintenance now being undertaken at Carrow Road following Saturday are bound to ensure it will be years again before anything similar happens. It’s just a shame this occasion came with such a profound effect.

LESSONS LEARNED

As for the rest of the story, it is safe to assume the club will no longer be keeping all their spare fuses in one place.

It’s also hard to imagine any public event where such an incident would not provide a single PA announcement or update to its 27,000 spectators, throughout an unscheduled and uncertain stoppage in excess of 20 minutes.

I have it on good authority the club sees that as a real shortcoming in Saturday’s circumstances – and a key lesson learned for the future, whenever that next incident arrives.

Now, back to those defensive issues…

For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…

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