Manchester City v Sunderland and Everton v Crystal Palace called off because of North-west storm

Extreme weather conditions force the fixtures to be postponed

Gales gusting up to 80mph around the Etihad Stadium forced the postponement of Manchester City’s game with Sunderland on Wednesday night because the safety of spectators could no longer be guaranteed.

Everton’s home encounter with Crystal Palace also fell victim to the storm after buildings were damaged around Goodison Park and local roads had to be shut.

At the Etihad the high winds brought down a wall near the stadium, blew over a booth selling programmes and damaged glass in one of the executive boxes. On the advice of the police, the game was called off an hour before kick-off because the risk to spectators walking to the ground was deemed too great. In a statement, City said: “The safety of those in and around, and travelling to, the stadium complex cannot be guaranteed.”

Earlier in the day, the Met Office had issued a red warning – the highest possible state of alert – for winds around Manchester between 5pm and 8pm. That warning was downgraded during the day, only for the gale to flare up in the hour before kick-off.

The inconvenience aside, the postponement would probably suit City, who were preparing for three games in the space of six days with a squad deprived of Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Matija Nastasic and Samir Nasri through injury.

The Everton chief executive, Robert Elstone, said the sight of tiles blown off the roof of the Winslow pub outside Goodison left the club with no choice but to call the game against Palace off. “People had started to see things dropping off roofs on to busy roads and footpaths and there was only one decision,” he said. “The minute we saw tiles coming off the pub, we dealt with it immediately.”

 

There was a happy ending for one Everton supporter at least. Ric Wee, a Malaysian fan making his first visit to Goodison after 30 years, tweeted a picture of himself inside the stadium with the message: “Finally, 30 years since supporting @Everton, will b watching EFC “live” for 1st time.” When the match was called off, his tweet went viral and Everton responded by inviting him down to the dressing rooms to meet Roberto Martinez and his players.

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