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Manchester United defend Chelsea postponement

By Nabil Hassan

Blackburn groundsmen
Snow caused havoc to weekend football fixtures list

Manchester United have no issue over Sunday's game at Chelsea being postponed, BBC Sport understands.

The match was called off on Saturday after heavy snow, but much of it had melted by Sunday and the pitch looked to be playable.

United defender Rio Ferdinand questioned the decision not to play the game between the two title rivals.

But United are thought to be happy with the decision, especially as Anderson and Nemanaja Vidic were doubtful.

Captain Vidic and midfielder Anderson were struggling with illness, while key midfielder Paul Scholes is out until the new year.

Chelsea are also likely to be pleased with the outcome as Didier Drogba and Michael Essien are both struggling to find their best form and Frank Lampard has only recently recovered from injury.

Our football department will have contingency dates in mind and will work closely with the affected clubs

Premier League spokesman

But Ferdinand initially reacted with surprise, especially as other matches on Saturday went ahead.

He said on Twitter: "Did anyone see the Ipswich game? Pitch covered in how come that game is played and ours is postponed?"

Some Manchester United fans on the BBC's internet forum 606 questioned whether Chelsea, who have picked up only three points in their last five league games, had called off the Premier League game to delay playing their in-form opponents.

However, only the match referee, police, the local authorities or the Premier League can call a game off. And the Premier League confirmed the game was called off some 27 hours before kick-off at the behest of the police and the local authority.

A Chelsea spokesman confirmed on Monday: "The decision to postpone the game was taken on safety grounds after comprehensive consultations between the club, local authorities and the police.

"A high-profile event of this scale affects an area much wider than Stamford Bridge, and considering the icy conditions forecast, an early decision was taken to ensure the safety of both fans and those staffing the event."

The Premier League argues that, had a decision been made on the day, it would have faced criticism from fans who had already travelled from the north west.

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In a later tweet, United defender Ferdinand referred to the safety issue, adding: "Safety for fans travelling to the game is the general feedback....I get it tweeps!"

Meanwhile, the Premier League is confident the big freeze will not lead to serious fixture congestion at the end of the season.

Eight matches have been postponed because of the weather so far - including two involving United.

But Premier League officials say there are sufficient dates set aside to cope.

A spokesman said: "Our football department will already have contingency dates in mind and will work closely with the affected clubs to get new dates agreed as quickly as possible."

The game between Blackpool and Manchester United at Bloomfield Road has already been rearranged to the last week in January.

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see also
Chelsea P-P Manchester United
17 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Ancelotti wants Man Utd win boost
17 Dec 10 |  Man Utd
Alan Hansen on Sir Alex Ferguson
17 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Lawro's Premier League predictions
21 Dec 10 |  Football Focus

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