LONDON, (Reuters) – Britain’s sporting weekend was decimated by heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures with today’s Premier League showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United among the hundreds of fixtures to be called off.
The hugely anticipated top-of-the table clash was one of seven weekend Premier League games to be postponed as conditions around stadiums were often deemed too dangerous even if the under-soil heated pitches were in playable condition.
Sunderland beat the freeze, and Bolton 1-0, to move sixth and in yesterday’s only other game to survive in the top flight Blackburn Rovers drew 1-1 with West Ham United.
All of today’s Premier League matches were called off, including the one at Stamford Bridge. No decision has been made about Manchester City’s tomorrow night home game against Everton.
England’s Championship (second division) clubs proved more hardy with seven games possible, although Ipswich Town’s evening clash against Leicester City was played on a thick carpet of snow with an orange ball and few lines visible.
Arsenal could have gone top with a win over Stoke City but heavy snow arrived and the game was called off.
“Further to a huge deluge of snow in north London starting over Emirates Stadium at 11.38 a.m. the match referee Lee Mason made the decision at 12.07 p.m. to postpone today’s [yesterday’s] match,” the club said in a statement.
“Approximately three inches of snow fell over this half hour period and there continues to be heavy snowfall with no apparent let-up.”
Liverpool’s evening kickoff at home to Fulham was also a victim of the Arctic conditions with temperatures predicted to drop to minus six Celsius.
“The safety of all fans attending the game is paramount and although the Anfield pitch is playable, the conditions around the stadium and further afield for people travelling to the match are such that the decision was taken, following police advice on safety grounds, to postpone the game,” the club said.
Wigan Athletic’s game against Aston Villa also went after what the club described as “freak snow”.