World Cup qualifier in Poland suffers from waterlogged pitch
England’s World Cup qualifier against Poland has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch in Warsaw.
Heavy rain had been falling in the Polish capital for most of the day and massive pools of water had appeared on the pitch.
Italian referee Gianluca Rocci inspected the pitch at 9pm local time (8pm BST), when the match was due to start at Warsaw's National Stadium.
It seemed then that the cause was hopeless and with rain continuing to fall, the game was called off 45 minutes later.
It was the first time an England match had been postponed due to the weather since 1979.
The decision was greeted with derision by a packed stadium but it seemed obvious from the initial inspection, as the ball repeatedly came to a standstill in massive puddles, there was no way the match could go ahead.
Although the goalkeepers had begun their warm-up, neither team attempted it and they did not try later on either.
In fact, the only sign of life was a pitch invasion by two fans, who skidded across the penalty areas, pursued by security staff, whose splashing through the sodden pitch made it obvious what was to happen.
It is believed the England players had changed out of their kit and were ready for departure when the final decision was made.
Club England Managing Director Adrian Bevington confirmed the final decision had been made by the FIFA match delegate.
He also said the Polish FA had raised the possibility of the game being rearranged for November.
However, as is their right, England declined, having already committed themselves to a high-profile friendly against Sweden in Gothenburg.
Bevington said: "When [England coaches] Ray Lewington, Gary Neville and Dave Watson went out to set up the warm-up, they came back and said there was a real problem.
"The most important thing here is that, while there are issues of disappointment for all the fans who have traveled, the safety of the players on the pitch is paramount. That has to be the priority."
He added: “We have made it clear, frequently, just how important the supporters are to us. These are pretty unique circumstances.
“We had said to the players to get changed significantly earlier than when the game would be called off because we didn't think there was any chance of the match being played, but we didn't want it to look as if we'd made their decision for them.
“There's nothing but respect for those fans who have travelled all that way. No disrespect intended.”
The Polish FA must now wait for the rain to stop before it can be shut and work commence on the saturated surface.