Wednesday, 12 Jun 2024

Why Football Matches Are Sometimes Abandoned and What Happens Afterward

Nowadays, football matches being abandoned is a rare occurrence, but it does happen. If you’re curious about the reasons behind abandoned games and what happens next, you’re in the right place. We’ll explore various factors that can lead to match abandonment and the subsequent course of action.

Bad Weather

Football and Bad Weather

One of the most common reasons for abandoned matches is bad weather. From heavy rain rendering the pitch unplayable to thick fog obscuring visibility, adverse weather conditions can pose significant challenges. Generally, lower league games are more affected by weather-related abandonments compared to top-tier matches.

Premier League and Championship teams tend to have better resources to handle adverse weather. With state-of-the-art draining systems and undersoil heating, these teams ensure that rain or snow won’t hinder the game. However, there have been instances where Premier League matches were called off due to weather-related safety concerns. For example, in 2010, icy and dangerous conditions around the ground led to the abandonment of six top-flight games, including Liverpool’s match against Tottenham.

Lower league sides are more susceptible to abandonment as they often lack the resources to cope with poor weather conditions. If the pitch is waterlogged and the ball is at risk of getting trapped in puddles, referees consult with groundskeepers to decide whether it’s safe and enjoyable for fans to continue the game.

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Crowd Trouble in Football
Image Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1990-0414-009 / Wolfried Pätzold / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

Another reason for match abandonment is crowd safety. In rare instances, matches have been called off due to threats or security concerns. For example, during Manchester United’s game against Bournemouth in the 2015-2016 season, a suspicious package resembling a bomb was found in a toilet. The evacuation of supporters and a controlled explosion followed, ensuring public safety.

Historically, crowd trouble, including pitch invasions, could lead to game abandonment. However, such issues have become significantly less prevalent in the modern era.


Evening matches rely on floodlights to ensure clear visibility for players and spectators. When floodlights fail and can’t be fixed within a reasonable time frame, the match is typically abandoned. In 1997, a spate of floodlight issues in the top-flight led to a police investigation following allegations of misconduct.

Playing Staff or Referees

Referee Off Sick

While rare, there have been instances where matches couldn’t proceed due to illness among officials or excessive player dismissals. For instance, during the “Battle of Bramall Lane” in 2002 between Sheffield United and West Brom, excessive sending-offs reduced Sheffield United to just six players, falling below the minimum requirement of seven players.

What Happens Next?

Match Replayed After Abandoned

The course of action following a match abandonment depends on the country’s rules and regulations. In Spain, a game that is already in progress is generally postponed to a later date. For example, if a match is halted after 68 minutes with one team leading 3-0, the remaining 22 minutes would be played at a later stage.

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In England, the Football Association holds the discretion to determine the outcome of an abandoned match. According to the Football League rules, a match falling short of 90 minutes may be considered a completed fixture or replayed in full or in part, based on the FA’s absolute discretion, regulations, and the Laws of the Game approved by the International Football Association Board.

If a match is called off before kick-off, it is typically rescheduled, with supporters offered refunds or replacement tickets for the new game.


Q: How often do football matches get abandoned?
A: Abandoned matches are rare occurrences in modern football. Various factors contribute to abandoned games, such as bad weather, safety concerns, floodlight failures, and exceptional circumstances like illnesses or excessive player dismissals.

Q: Do Premier League matches get abandoned due to weather?
A: Premier League and Championship teams often have better resources to handle adverse weather conditions. However, in exceptional cases, matches may be called off due to safety concerns regarding supporters outside the ground or extreme weather conditions.

Q: What happens to tickets if a match is abandoned?
A: If a match is abandoned before kick-off, it is usually rescheduled, and supporters are offered refunds or replacement tickets for the new game. However, the course of action may differ based on the country’s rules and regulations.


While abandoned football matches are infrequent, they can happen due to various reasons such as bad weather, safety concerns, floodlight failures, or exceptional circumstances involving players or referees. The outcome of an abandoned match depends on the country’s rules and regulations. The focus remains on ensuring the safety of supporters and providing fair solutions for rescheduling or refunds. For more information on football and related updates, visit Movin993.

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