GREAT Harwood's game at home to Nantwich Town tonight has been postponed -- despite the Ministry of Agriculture giving the Showground the all-clear from foot and mouth disease.

Nantwich have refused to travel because they believe there is still a risk they could take the virus back to their rural South Cheshire community.

And the league have bowed to pressure and postponed the game.

The Showground, which is next door to an abattoir where foot and mouth was confirmed last Wednesday, was shut down because of the risk of spreading the virus. Friday night's game against Woodley Sports was postponed.

On Saturday the Ministry of Agriculture gave the club permission to play tonight's game but Nantwich refused to travel.

Great Harwood secretary Mark Jones said he was disappointed with the league's decision to call off the game. "If the Ministry of Agriculture have said we can play, we can play, but the league have said as a precaution they are calling it off.

"But how far do you take it? You could argue that Kidsgrove, who we are playing this Saturday, is a rural area so are they going to call that off too?

"Nantwich said they would come on Thursday. If they can come on Thursday why not tonight? If the Commission had said we couldn't play then that would have been fine but for a football team to refuse, that's ridiculous to me."

Nantwich secretary Bernard Lycett said calling off the game was the 'responsible' thing to do.

"We haven't got any cases of foot and mouth in Nantwich and I don't want to be responsible for bringing it here," he said.

"I have a horse on a farm and the farmer has told me that he wouldn't allow me back onto the farm for a long while if I went anywhere near Great Harwood.

"We have players who live on farms and students from the agricultural college on the team.

"It would have been a public relations disaster for us to go to Great Harwood. The Ministry says there is no risk but I can't believe that just four days after the outbreak it is safe again.

"Even if there is just a minimal risk it is a risk not worth taking.

"We said we would go on Wednesday or Thursday instead but not tonight. They would have to kick us out of the league because we wouldn't go anywhere where there had been foot and mouth."

Accrington Stanley had offered Great Harwood their ground but Nantwich also refused to play there, for the same reason.

The game has yet to be re-arranged but Great Harwood, who are bottom of North West Counties Division One, already have a fixture pile-up in their sights having played eight games less than some teams. Nantwich have had just two games called off all season.

Farsley Celtic v Accrington Stanley, Nantwich v Rossendale, Colne v Oldham Town, Chadderton v Bacup and Padiham v Tetley Walker were all postponed on Saturday due to the weather.