Manchester derby in China called off

25 Jul

Bird's Nest pitch


Times reporter Paul Hirst took these pictures of the Bird’s Nest stadium pitch on Monday

The pre-season game between Manchester United and Manchester City in China on Monday is off because heavy rain has left the pitch unplayable.

The Bird’s Nest pitch was described as “bad” by United boss Jose Mourinho on Sunday, while City’s Pep Guardiola said he hoped there would be no injuries.

Both City and United said “tournament organisers and clubs” decided to cancel the match at the 2008 Olympic Stadium.

Organisers later said the match will not be rearranged.

The first meeting of the respective managers in a Manchester derby since taking charge will now take place on 10 September in the Premier League.

Rain had fallen overnight in Beijing and there were forecasts of more heavy rain on Monday.

The clubs’ planned training sessions were switched away from the stadium on Sunday to the Olympic Sports Centre, about a mile away.

Flooded village in northern China<!–

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Ben Rich with the latest on flooding in China

“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 unfit for play,” a statement said.

“The conditions experienced in Beijing on 19 July and 20 July were reported as being some of the most extreme weather conditions the capital of China has experienced in recent history.”

Because the game has been cancelled there will not be enough matches played in the tournament for there to be a winner of the 2016 International Champions Cup.

The cancellation capped a chaotic 24 hours for the Red Devils. Manager Mourinho’s planned news conference had to be scrapped as too many people tried to get into a room which was deemed too small and too hot.

And a plane carrying some of the players had to make an unscheduled stop in Tianjin, about 160km (99.4 miles) from Beijing, as storms hit the Chinese capital.

United will leave Beijing to return to Manchester later on Monday as planned, while City are due to fly to Shenzhen on Tuesday for Thursday’s game against Borussia Dortmund.

Flood in north and central China have killed at least 150 people with scores missing and hundreds of thousands forced from homes.

Manchester City training<!–

Both clubs had to train away from the Bird’s Nest stadium on Sunday

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