Premiership hit as freeze takes hold

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The Independent Online

The winter freeze has had a devastating effect on the weekend's sporting fixtures. More than 30 football matches have been postponed in England and Scotland with more likely to follow after pitch inspections this morning.

The winter freeze has had a devastating effect on the weekend's sporting fixtures. More than 30 football matches have been postponed in England and Scotland with more likely to follow after pitch inspections this morning.

Rugby union and racing have also been badly hit by the heavy snow and icy temperatures across the country.

Three Premiership matches have been postponed with Aston Villa against Leicester, Everton versus Leeds and Bradford against Liverpool all falling victim to the weather.

The match of the day is also in doubt with an early pitch inspection at St James' Park to see if Newcastle's game with Manchester United can go ahead. Middlesbrough and Southampton will need inspections to see if their games against Coventry and Derby respectively can be played.

Leicester had no complaints about the decision to postpone this afternoon's game at Villa Park because conditions in and around the stadium were unsafe for supporters. Their fixture with Bradford on New Year's Day could be in doubt unless conditions improve, with a decision expected tomorrow.

The programme in Scotland has been even more badly hit. Celtic and Rangers will have the weekend off and only two games outside the Scottish Premier League have so far survived, Partick Thistle v Berwick and Peterhead v Brechin. All rugby union games have been postponed.

In England, the Zurich Premiership has fared better with the game between London Irish and Rotherham the only one to be called off so far, but there is a pitch inspection at Leicester this morning.

There was no racingprogramme yesterday, and three of today's scheduled five meetings - at Catterick, Cheltenham and Warwick - have been called off. The flat meeting at Lingfield and the jump meeting at Fontwell will go ahead, however.

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