Manchester derby in China off after heavy rain leaves pitch unplayable

Bird's Nest pitch
BBC Sport's Simon Stone took this picture 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 in Beijing 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 saidexternal-link "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.

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. external-link

"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."

Beijing's average rainfall figure across 48 hours last week was 212mm, the heaviest of the year.

By comparison, December's Storm Desmond saw more than 300mm land on Cumbria over two days - breaking existing UK rainfall records.

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.

Floods 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


BBC Sport's Simon Stone in China:

Former manager Louis van Gaal was responsible for cutting Manchester United's pre-season tour to two games - and successor Jose Mourinho is probably disappointed he did not manage to scrap it completely.

To say things have not gone to plan for United in China over the past week is putting it mildly.

From being delayed coming through immigration on their arrival in Shanghai on Wednesday, to the cancellation of the Manchester derby against City today, it has been one thing after another.

The police were responsible for taking the squad to a back entrance of their hotel on that first day, so they did not see all the fans who had turned up to greet them.

On Friday they were beaten 4-1 by Borussia Dortmund. On Saturday, half their team were diverted to Tianjin due to the storms affecting Beijing. They eventually reached the team hotel at 1am.

Sunday saw a planned pre-match training session at the Bird's Nest Stadium moved to the Olympic Sports Centre about a mile away.

And now today. You have to feel for executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who made the 10,000 mile round trip for little more than a meeting with Mourinho and co-chairman Joel and Avie Glazer, given he did not arrive until Sunday night.

United will get back to Manchester on Tuesday and continue their pre-season preparations against Galatasaray in Gothenburg on Saturday.

That game could mark a debut for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has still to be introduced to the media.

In the meantime, the wait to seal the world record transfer of Paul Pogba goes on.

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