Monday 28 May 2018

Blue monsoon halts Pep plan

City v Monchengladbach to be played this evening after deluge forces postponement

Referee Bjorn Kuipers and head groundsman Lee Jackson inspect the pitch. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Referee Bjorn Kuipers and head groundsman Lee Jackson inspect the pitch. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

James Ducker

Manchester City and Borussia Mönchengladbach will meet this evening after torrential rain forced the postponement of their Champions League game at the Etihad Stadium last night.

The Group C game was called off 19 minutes before the scheduled 7.45pm kick-off on safety and security grounds after flash-flooding wreaked havoc in the surrounding area.

Despite an hour and a half of heavy downpours, the pitch at the Etihad was draining well when the rain began to relent shortly after 7.30pm and looked playable.


But the thunderstorms had flooded roads and walkways around the stadium and the decision was taken on safety grounds by the safety inspection group in conjunction with both clubs and Uefa officials to postpone the game amid concern about the risks to supporters.

It is the second time during Pep Guardiola's short reign as City manager that a game has been called off due to adverse weather. In July, City's eagerly awaiting International Champions Cup tie against Manchester United in Beijing was cancelled after flooding had rendered the pitch at the Bird's Nest unplayable.

Uefa rules state that a decision on the rescheduling of a European tie must be taken "within two hours of the decision to cancel the match" but officials from both clubs were still in discussions with their counterparts from European football's governing body after 9.30pm, before the final decision was reached.

It is believed Mönchengladbach were keen to play the game this afternoon but City had police, stewarding and supporter considerations to take into account.

Around 1,500 Mönchengladbach fans had made the journey to Manchester for the game and were inside the stadium when it was announced the game was off. There were only a few hundred City fans inside the ground at the time, with others being turned away at the turnstiles.

The entire Metrolink network in and around Manchester had been suspended after two substations were hit by lightning, knocking out much of the operator's systems, and there were reports of stores in the city centre being flooded. Cars were seen being left abandoned on the roads when the worst of the weather hit.

A pitch inspection involving the Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers and his fellow officials as well as City's head groundsman, Lee Jackson, was carried out at 6.53pm. Kuipers attempted rolling a ball only for it to stop dead in its tracks.

The weather forecast is due to improve for tonight's rescheduled fixture, which kicks off at 7.45. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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