YORK City Knights’ Betfred Championship match at Rochdale has been called off because of high winds.

The decision was made at about 3.03pm, three minutes after the match was supposed to have kicked off. Both teams had been kitted out and were waiting to warm-up.

The Spotland pitch still had a full covering on it and neither set of rugby posts at either end were up.

It was reported that ground staff had said health and safety concerns due to high winds had prevented them from putting the posts up.

The Hornets share the ground with League One football club Rochdale FC, who beat Shrewsbury 2-1 here yesterday. They also have a home game on Tuesday night.

The covers had gone on the pitch after yesterday's game due to the forecast heavy rains and winds. The covers prevent the posts from going on.

Fans had not been allowed into the stands, with a big York following of several hundred waiting outside and in the bar at the ground.

A statement from the Hornets said: "Today's scheduled fixture against York City Knights has been cancelled due to safety concerns.  

"Due to adverse weather and high winds, the ground staff have been unable to remove pitch covers and erect rugby posts in a safe manner. 

"Rochdale Hornets have worked closely with ground staff and an external contractor exploring all possibilities to allow the game to take place which included delaying the kick off in the hope we would have a window where the sheets could be removed and posts could be erected safely."

Hornets chief executive Steve Kerr said: “Whilst we are extremely disappointed and frustrated by this situation the safety of all staff in the stadium is paramount. 

“We will work hard over the coming days with Rochdale AFC, the stadium company and the Rugby Football League to come to a solution on this and rearrange the fixture. 

“Finally I would like to apologise to both sets of players, staff and all supporters who have travelled far and wide to support their teams.

“I would especially like to extend my apologies to the large number of York City Knights supporters who have travelled today.” 

The match commissioner, Pat Cluskey, said health and safety concerns had to "come first".

Match officials and club coaches had been in discussions on the pitch. Both teams wanted the game to go ahead.

The call-off has denied the Knights the chance to go joint top of the Championship following leaders Toronto Wolfpack's shock hammering at Toulouse Olympique yesterday.

Knights head coach James Ford said: "I'm obviously really disappointed that the game is not on. I've spoken to the Rochdale staff as well and they're disappointed too."