Sports / Soccer

Rain damage blamed for Manchester derby cancellation

By Sun Xiaochen ( Updated: 2016-07-25 21:33

The cancellation of the pre-season friendly between Manchester United and Manchester City in Beijing has gone ahead due to players' safety concerns with the rain-damaged pitch, organizers said on Monday.

Relevent Sports, Le Sports and the Beijing Football Association jointly announced this afternoon they would cancel the International Champions Cup's Beijing game between the two Manchester Premier League clubs, which was supposed to kick off at 7.35pm Beijing time on Monday, leaving both sides' fans hugely disappointment.

Despite the sudden announcement to call off the match due to the "bad weather conditions", a huge number of fans had already gathered around the Bird's Nest in the late afternoon, dressing up in club uniforms while waving banners to welcome their respective teams without knowing about the cancellation.

However, many of fans, who bought expensive tickets from scalpers, didn't buy the weather excuse, as the sun shone again and the clouds dispersed in the early evening.

Photos showing angry fans stamping tickets on the ground and demands for extra compensation for their travel expenses went viral on China's social networking platform Sina Weibo.

"It's such a ridiculous call to cancel the match for ‘bad weather' on probably the finest day in recent 10 days. What was promised to be a payback for the Chinese supporters turned out to be a huge disappointment," a Weibo user nicknamed Leolovesada said on Monday evening.

The organizers, however, released another statement in the late evening, further explaining that the hard decision was made after agreements between both teams following an assessment of the rainwater-damaged pitch at the Bird's Nest.

"The cancellation was made in the interest of player safety and comes following extreme weather events in Beijing over a multiple day period that have left the playing surface in a condition deemed to be un-fit for play. Due to international travel schedules and planned sporting commitments, the match cancellation is definitive and the match will not be re-scheduled," the statement read.

Both teams made official apologies to the fans.

"We are very disappointed not to be able to play for our supporters in Beijing. The players have been working hard to prepare for an exciting derby, but we understand that this bad weather is beyond anyone's control and the rain has made it totally unsafe to play on this pitch," said Ferran Soriano, the chief executive of the Manchester City FC.

Manchester United Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward echoed those sentiments, saying all the players and staff with Man United were saddened by the cancellation, and were as disappointed as the fans.

"But I am sure they appreciate that the player safety has to be the top priority. I am sure we will return to the Bird's Nest in the future to give them the chance to see the team in action," he said.

Fans who have purchased tickets to the cancelled match can seek a refund directly from their original point of purchase (no higher than face value at the time the ticket was originally purchased). Further details will be released in due course on the local Chinese tournament website, .

The International Champions Cup China leg's third game between German Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City, which was scheduled to take place at 8pm Beijing time on Thursday at the Longgang Stadium in Shenzhen, will go ahead as planned.

There are no concerns in respect to the impact of adverse weather for the match in Shenzhen.

As a result of the Beijing match cancellation, there will not be sufficient matches played in the 2016 International Champions Cup China to achieve a tournament winner.

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