Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola’s eagerly awaited battle will not take place.
The new managers of Manchester United and Manchester City will have to wait until September of the new Premier League season until they can lock horns for the first-time in Manchester.
[ MORE: Messi’s new hairdo ]
The first-ever Manchester derby to take place on foreign soil was set to take place in the International Champions Cup 2016 but it was cancelled Monday as extreme weather conditions in Beijing in recent days led to severe damage to the playing surface at the Birds Nest Stadium in the Chinese capital.
Both teams have made huge deals of their preseason tours to China with new kits being unveiled on the Great Wall and plenty of promotional events lined up.
[ MORE: PL preseason schedule ]
However Manchester United vs. Manchester City will not be rescheduled and the two clubs, along with the organizers of the ICC tournament, released the following statement after the cancellation of the high-profile friendly.
The cancellation was made in the interest of player safety and comes following extreme weather events in Beijing over a multiple day period, that have left the playing surface in a condition deemed to be unfit for play. The conditions experienced in Beijing on July 19 and July 20 were reported as being some of the most extreme weather conditions the capital of China has experienced in recent history. Regular rain occurred also on July 21 and July 22.
The decision was made collectively by tournament organisers, participating clubs, the China Football Association, the Beijing Football Association and the management of the National Stadium.
Due to international travel schedules and planned sporting commitments, the match cancellation is definitive and the match will not be re-scheduled.
The International Champions Cup and its participating clubs thanked and apologised to fans in China and around the world who were planning to attend the match or watch the match broadcast.
To acknowledge the support of fans, players of Manchester City and Manchester United will record and distribute a thank you video for fans in China before departing Beijing.
Both Mourinho and Guardiola had expressed severe concern over the playing surface in Beijing, with both teams forced to train elsewhere leading up to the game. Mourinho also had his press conference first cancelled due to the extreme heat inside the conference room and then hastily arranged on a running track on the side of a pitch.
Media covering the game in China’s largest city called the organization of the event “farcical” and the group running the ICC tournament, Relevant Sports, will certainly have plenty of questions to answer.
Reports claim that a fungus had developed on the pitch after record rainfall in Beijing in recent weeks. That was coupled with soaring temperatures which ensured the pitch could not be patched up in time and wasn’t suitable to host the game.
It is a big blow for fans of both clubs in China, with over 50,000 tickets sold in the 90,000 capacity stadium. The event was capped to 60,000 tickets but now both clubs have traveled to China to each play one game in the searing heat.
United lost 4-1 to Borussia Dortmund in temperatures close to 100 degrees last week, while City will play Dortmund on Thursday before returning to England.
City have forged close links with China after owner Sheikh Mansour sold a 13 percent stake in the club to Chinese investors last December. In the coming months and years the organizers of the ICC and other friendly tournaments will try to make sure these events aren’t replicated.
Weather is weather and can’t be controlled but it is clear the situation surrounding this mammoth game in Beijing was far from ideal.