MANCHESTER DERBY CANCELLED IN CHINA

BEIJING — The International Champions Cup fixture between Manchester United and Manchester City has been called off because of concerns over the state of the pitch at the Bird’s Nest stadium.

Beijing has been hit significant rainfall in recent days and another major downpour overnight has led to the pitch at the 80,000-capacity ground being deemed unplayable.

United manager Jose Mourinho had branded the pitch “very bad” in the lead up to the friendly match against Pep Guardiola’s City.

Following heavy rain in Beijing, Mourinho said: “I think Beijing is unlucky because the pitch is very bad.”

City said in a statement on Monday morning: “Due to recent weather events, tournament organisers and participating clubs have made the decision to cancel tonight’s International Champions Cup fixture to be played in Beijing tonight, 25 July.

 

“Further details and statements will follow.”

The statement initially said that a news conference would be held up the stadium at 4:30 p.m. local time, but that line was removed shortly afterward.

The pitch was infected with fungus and although the affected areas were dug up, torrential rain in Beijing has washed away the replacement turf.

It left a dangerous playing surface with both managers sharing concerns that their players could pick up injuries. Both sides were forced to switch their prematch training sessions to the nearby Olympic Sports Centre in an attempt to protect the pitch.

Groundstaff have been working day and night to ensure the pitch is safe to play on and City even sent over groundsman Craig Knight to help out.

The fixture would have been the first Manchester derby to be played abroad. The two sides will now next meet in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sept. 10.

United are next scheduled to be in action against Galatasaray on July 30, while City face Borussia Dortmund, who beat the Red Devils 4-1 last week, on July 28.