Wembley confirm that another new pitch will be laid in time for May's FA Cup final

19 April 2010 09:42
Experts have been left stunned by the decision of the FA to dig up Wembley's troublesome turf just 24 hours before a meeting aimed at solving the on-going problems with the £757million stadium's pitch.

Representatives of the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) are today due to meet with the FA and the Sports Turf Research Institute - the company in charge of maintaining the Wembley playing surface.

But prior to taking advice from the IOG, who have called for an independent inquiry into the shocking state of the national stadium's surface, the FA have decided to press ahead with replacing the pitch for the 11th time since Wembley was opened in 2007.

Angry: Spurs boss Harry Redknapp hit out at the Wembley pitch after their FA Cup semi-final defeat against Portsmouth

Discussing the FA's decision, IOG chief executive Geoff Webb said:'It would be fair to say it came as something of a surprise. I foundout via our own PR agency, who had heard about it on Sky News.

'If the meeting is still on then I will be able to answer more questions about what it is they are trying to achieve.'

How Sportsmail reported theWembley pitch fiasco last Tuesday

The meeting was called after the farcical scenes in the FA Cupsemi-finals - Aston Villa v Chelsea and Portsmouth v Tottenham, whenplayers struggled to stay on their feet.

The FA refused to expand on why they had taken the decision to ripup the turf fol lowing Saturday's Guinness Premiership rugby matchbetween Saracens and Harlequins prior to it being examined by the IOGteam, but did release a statement which read: 'Wembley Stadium canconfirm that a new pitch will be installed, with work commencing today(Sunday).

'We will continue working with the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) to install and maintain the new turf.

'We will continue to refine the installation and maintenance regimeto build on the formula that was successful during that period. Thepitch will be the same type as was used in the latter part of lastyear.

Home of football: But the pitch at Wembley has been heavily criticised

'Wembley and STRI feel confident that we will be able to deliver andsustain a good pitch at Wembley for our busy football schedule in May.'

Multiple award-winning groundsman Alan Ferguson, of Ipswich Town,had been expecting to examine the turf but the decision to re-lay it ata cost of £90,000 means that, according to Webb, 'that is all up in theair'.

Turf war: Wembley pitch will be torn up - as was the case for Saturday's Guinness Premiership fixture between Saracens and Harlequins

Webb said that, despite being unsure as to whether there will be anyturf left to examine, Ferguson would still be able to offer usefuladvice, saying: 'Alan can look at anything, the bottom, the middle orthe top.

  'All the commentary has been about the pitch that is in situ but itwould seem that they have decided they have got to try something else.It is quite interesting that they are going back to a previous type ofpitch.'

The first test for the new surface will come on May 8 when Barrow take on Stevenage Borough in the FA Trophy.

A further seven football matches will then take place at Wembleybefore the pitch is due to be ripped up again following a concert byAmerican rockers Green Day on June 19.

 Andy Townsend: Wembley pitch is a joke! Hard surface could injure playersOnce Wembley was the envy of the world, now the pitch is a national disgrace


Source: Daily_Mail