Manchester 'derby' friendly called off in Beijing
By SSN HQ
Last Updated: 25/07/16 2:56pm
Monday's International Champions Cup match between Manchester City and Manchester United has been called off because of the state of the pitch in Beijing.
A statement on the United website confirmed what would have been the first Manchester derby outside the UK had been postponed after rain in the build-up left the Bird's Nest playing surface in a poor state.
"Due to recent weather events, tournament organisers and participating clubs have made the decision to cancel the International Champions Cup fixture to be played in Beijing tonight, 25 July," said the statement.
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Both clubs have apologised for the decision - with some fans having travelled to China especially - in statements published on City's official website.
City chief executive Ferran Soriano said: "We are very disappointed not to be able to play for our supporters here in Beijing. The players have been working hard in training to prepare for an exciting derby.
"We know how much everyone was looking forward to the game, but we understand that this bad weather is beyond anyone's control, and that the rain has made it totally unsafe to play on this pitch.
"It has been a pleasure and an honour to experience such a warm welcome from the people and supporters here in Beijing, and we remain committed to playing here in the future."
United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said: "It's extremely disappointing not to be able to play the game in this amazing stadium but the recent torrential rain would have caused problems anywhere in the world and has left the pitch unplayable.
"We know our fans in China will, like the players and staff, be saddened by the cancellation of the match but I am sure they appreciate that the player safety has to be the top priority.
"I am sure we will return to the Bird's Nest in the future to give them the chance to see the team in action."
United boss Jose Mourinho criticised pitch conditions at the Bird's Nest Stadium at the weekend, saying his only objective was to get his players home healthy.
"I think Beijing is unlucky because the pitch is very bad," he said on Sunday. "The condition of my players is more important than the results in pre-season.
"My only objective is to take the players home safe and without injury. These are no conditions to play a good game of football.
"If it was a friendly, it becomes a double friendly now. No injuries, play calm, play safe, go home and keep the preparation for next week. I hope our players and City's players can go home without injury."
With the 4-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund on Friday and Monday's postponement, United's trip to China has not been ideal preparation for the upcoming Premier League campaign and Mourinho admitted on Sunday he could not wait to get back to Manchester and begin training with his full complement of players.
"Manchester City have all of their players. We have six, seven or eight, which played in the Euros," he said. "What I want is to get back to Manchester and train with the full group."
Asked why the club has come to China for pre-season, Mourinho added: "It's good for the fans and for the commercial side of things.
"We have a good group, we have a good spirit and we cope with it. Monday is the last day and then it is over."