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Postponements push back the Carling Cup and more expected

The identity of the Carling Cup finalists will not be known until the end of the month after both semi-final first legs fell victim to the snow yesterday.

Last night's clash between Blackburn and Aston Villa and the eagerly anticipated derby between Manchester City and Manchester United were both postponed.

While the pitches remained playable, severe weather in the north west of England made conditions in the surrounding areas and on major roads treacherous.

City and United will now try again on January 19, the date originally scheduled for the second leg, with the return on January 27. United and City have had league clashes against Hull and Stoke respectively postponed as a result.

A new date for the other semi-final will be announced tomorrow morning.

A Blackburn statement read: "While 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.

"With no immediate end in sight to the current cold spell, the disruption could continue into the weekend."

All Premier League grounds are required to have undersoil heating but frozen pitches are likely to be a problem at lower levels and north of the border.

The Scottish Football Association have urged clubs to make early pitch inspections ahead of their Scottish Cup fourth-round ties.

A spokesman said: "In the interests of supporter safety and convenience, inspections will take place from today onwards and clubs have also been advised to liaise with their local authority with regard to the surrounding areas of their grounds.

"Pitch inspections can be carried out no later than four hours prior to kick-off but it is prudent for them to be carried out as quickly as possible."