Weather postpones Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Russia

• Overnight snow and rain causes concern at Windsor Park
• Game will now take place at 3pm on Saturday

Northern Ireland's crucial World Cup qualifier against Russia at Windsor Park has been postponed until 3pm on Saturday due to thein Belfast, the Irish Football Association has announced. Ground staff spent the day clearing snow off the pitch but, with more expected, the decision was made to delay the Group F encounter.

Windsor Park is among the more basic grounds in international football and does not have much in the way of defences against the elements. Groundsmen were joined by local volunteers in their efforts to clear the snow and the city's council staff have been involved in gritting the approaches to the ground.

Question marks will naturally be raised over the likelihood of the game taking place on SaturdayThe game is far from certain to go ahead today, with the Irish Football Association announcing a briefing for 10.30am in the morning. IFA staff – including the chief executive Patrick Nelson – did their best to salvage the situation by shovelling snow from the pitch in grim conditions, but their efforts were in vain. The delay is likely to cause additional problems, with Northern Ireland due to host Israel in the second match of the Group F double-header on Tuesday.

That match is also in doubt, with the pitch highly unlikely to be in an acceptable condition should the game go ahead today. Russia, meanwhile, are due to play Brazil in a friendly at Stamford Bridge on Monday but now face the prospect of a one-day break between games.

The inclement weather also forced the closure of the runway at George Best Belfast City Airport and the Association of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs registered their concerns with the IFA over the safety of fans travelling to the match.

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