Atalanta director Umberto Marino explains there was ‘no alternative’ to postponing tonight’s Champions League game with Villarreal due to snow. ‘The players had to be protected.’
The showdown was meant to kick off at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo at 20.00 GMT, but after several pitch inspections and an initial 20-minute delay, it was called off.
“The referee (Anthony Taylor) tried to get us to play, he wanted to see how the weather developed and we cleared the turf, but the snow continued to come down,” Marino told Sky Sport Italia and Mediaset Infinity.
“The official was intelligent, involved the two coaches in the decision. The players had to be protected from potential danger, the referee spoke to the players and coaches, everyone agreed with the decision. In these conditions, there was no alternative.”
Several more hours of negotiations followed, as originally the UEFA plan had been to reschedule it for 15.30 GMT on Thursday (16.30 local time).
However, many Atalanta fans would be at work or school at that time, so could not attend.
“UEFA make the decision in Nyon, we made our request and that is to play it in the evening.”
Atalanta got their way, as the fixture has now officially been rescheduled for 18.00 GMT (19.00 local time) on Thursday December 9.
The snow has now stopped in Bergamo and there is no snow expected for Thursday.
Meanwhile, Atalanta are guaranteed at least third place in the group, as Manchester United drew 1-1 with Young Boys this evening.
If they win, then the Italians go through to the Champions League Round of 16.
Any other result and they’ll drop into the Europa League.