Weather chaos hits sport: Northern Ireland v Russia postponed

The game will now take place tomorrow

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The Independent Football

Tonight's World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Russia in Belfast has been postponed until 3pm tomorrow, with snow rendering conditions unplayable at Windsor Park.

Snow began to fall overnight and persisted throughout the day, coating the pitch in a thick covering.

Norwegian referee Tom Hagen and a team of match delegates completed a series of inspections starting from 10am but the likelihood of a game looked remote for much of the day and a decision was finally made at 2.30pm.

Question marks will naturally be raised over the likelihood of the game taking place tomorrow, with more bad weather expected through the night.

The Irish Football Association announced a briefing at 10.30am in the morning, during which more details will be provided.

IFA staff - including chief executive Patrick Nelson - did their best to salvage the situation today by shovelling snow from the pitch in grim conditions, but their efforts were in vain.

Windsor Park, home to Irish League outfit Linfield, is among the more basic on the international circuit and has little to no defence against the elements, such as under-soil heating.

The delay is likely to cause additional problems, with Northern Ireland due to host Israel in the second match of the Group F double-header on Tuesday.

That match is now itself in some doubt, with the pitch highly unlikely to be in an acceptable condition should a game go ahead this weekend.

Russia, meanwhile, are due to play Brazil in a friendly at Stamford Bridge on Monday but now face the prospect of a one-day break between games.

The inclement weather also forced the closure of the runway at George Best Belfast City Airport and the Association of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs registered their concerns with the IFA over the safety of fans travelling to the match.

The first casualty of the weekend was tonight's Super League game between Wakefield and Leeds.

The Wildcats said in a statement on their website that the clash had been wiped out due to heavy snowfall and it would instead be played on Sunday afternoon at 3.30pm.

There was good news for rugby league fans, however, as the game between Warrington and top-of-the-table Huddersfield passed a midday inspection.

Tomorrow's npower League Two football fixture between Bradford and Bristol Rovers has already been postponed.

Racing went ahead at Doncaster, though, after the course passed an 11am inspection.

Tomorrow's race meeting at Stratford has already been scrubbed off, though, with course officials citing a waterlogged track.

Although the course was raceable upon inspection at 6.45am this morning, another check at noon put paid to any chances of racing at the weekend.

Clerk of the course Stephen Lambert said: "We are waterlogged in a few places and the weather has left the ground very patchy and it's just not safe.

"The forecast is horrendous for the next 24 hours with at least another 11 or 12 millimetres of rain to come, starting at about 4pm today.

"The ground is patchy and I'm just not happy with it."