Big freeze wipes out Manchester derby and Blackburn's semi with Aston Villa

05 January 2010 07:50
Both Carling Cup semi-finals are off as the big freeze takes its toll on the football fixture list.

The Manchester derby between City and United at Eastlands has now been called off after the other last four first leg between Blackburn and Aston Villa - due to take place on Tuesday night - also fell victim to the freezing weather.

Heavy snow in the north west has caused chaos on the roads and disrupted flights in and out of Manchester Airport and Liverpool Airport.

Snow joke: Eastlands has suffered at the hands of the big freeze

  Although the first-leg tie was not due to be played at Eastlands until Wednesdayevening, there was no prospect of the game taking place due to the weather conditions in Manchester overnight.

The tie will now take place on January 19, which was originally the date forthe second leg. That match will now take place on Wednesday, January 27.

The decision means the Premier League games between United and Hull and Cityand Stoke, due to be played at Old Trafford and the Britannia Stadium onTuesday, January 26 and Wednesday, January 27 have now also been postponed.

Under normal circumstances, the games would have been rearranged for next weekon the same days. However, with City's Premier League encounter with Blackburn due to be broadcast on ESPN on Monday evening, that was ruled out.

The match at Ewood Park had been in doubt due to heavy snow in the north west since early on Tuesday morning.

A decision was made after dialogue between the club, police and Football League and advice from the Met Office.

Waiting game: The Manchester rivals will meet again later this month

The prime concern was access to the ground with main travel routes forsupporters severely affected.

A statement from Blackburn read: 'Some roads around Ewood Park arecurrently inaccessible and even the motorways have only been passablewith extreme care,with many travellers having already experienced lengthy delays and disruption.

'Itis still snowing heavily in Blackburn, as it has been all morning, andadvice locally is not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary andin addition severe weather warnings have being issued throughout thecountry.

'The weather forecast for the day states that we can expect more snow and freezing temperatures in Lancashire and that heavy snow is expected in the midlands later in the day and will continue throughout the evening and early hours of Wednesday morning.

'Whilst the Ewood Park pitch is playable we believe it would be inadvisable to expect fans, staff etc to attempt to get to the match. Even if fans are able to get to Ewood Park we would not like to speculate on what type of journey home they may face at 10pm tonight when temperatures will be sub-zero.'

Waiting game: Aston Villa's clash with Blackburn is off

The second semi-final between Manchester City and Manchester United is due to be held tomorrow evening at Eastlands.

But Sir Alex Ferguson's scheduled press conference on Tuesday morning was cancelled because of the icy roads around the Carrington training ground. Everton also called off their official unveiling of new signing Landon Donovan.

Stoke have said they are confident their Premier League game tonight against Fulham will go ahead.

Astatement on Stoke's website read: 'While the pitch itself is in goodcondition, staff are currently working to keep all the major approachesto the stadium clear of any snow and ice.

'The club are,however, aware of the forecast of snow late in the day and are keepinga close eye on bad weather affecting the north of the region.'

No show: Sir Alex Ferguson (left)

The recent big freeze has caused havoc with racing's national huntprogramme. Today's meetings at Leicester and Taunton have beenabandoned, along with Southwell and Hexham tomorrow and Ludlow onThursday.

A number of other meetings later this week are subject to inspections.

Stephen Davenport, senior meteorologist at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: 'This is stretching the limits of short to medium-term forecasting but so entrenched is this cold-weather pattern that it seems only a major upheaval in the atmosphere will bring a return to something milder.

'Should conditions continue in a similar vein then by March we might just be looking back at one of the coldest winters of the last 100 years.'

Manchester City have been forced to close their ticket office and city centreshop due to the conditions.

There is no indication yet that tomorrow's fixture could be in doubt and tickets for the match are still available online.

A rugby league friendly between Leigh and Super League side Salford, originally scheduled for December 27 but rearranged for tonight, has also been called off.

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Source: Daily_Mail