CRISIS MEETING TO DECIDE FUTURE OF WEMBLEY PITCH

Wembley Stadium has organized a crisis meeting to decide the future of the playing surface after recent criticism.

The stadium has invited professional body the Institute of Groundsmanship to the talks this coming Monday in the hope of finding a finding a long-term solution.
If the decision is made to relay the surface it will be the stadium’s 11th pitch since 2007.

The proposed talks will be little consolation to Spurs’ Manager Harry Redknapp who saw his side crash out of the FA Cup semi-final to Portsmouth on Sunday.

Both sides struggled on the slippery surface which had cut badly during the other FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Aston Villa the previous day.

A spokesperson for the Institute of Groundsmanship said: “Clearly, it is not in the interests of anyone to see the national stadium’s playing surface under continued scrutiny and speculation. Wembley Stadium is an iconic football venue and therefore deserves the optimum playing surface.

“The industry itself suffers from the fact that whenever a match is played at Wembley, the first thing called into question is the standard of grounds management.”

Last year Wembley decided to sack head groundsman Steve Welch and replace him with consultants from the Sports Turf Research Institute.

The IOG spokesperson continued: “Many Premier League stadia serve as excellent examples of football surfaces. Their playing surfaces are clearly sacrosanct and non-football events are limited in scope and nature. Surfaces are not replaced regularly; they are managed and maintained year-round to a very high level.

“We would suggest that an independent enquiry would be in the best interests of everyone to understand the nature and cause of the ongoing issues concerning Wembley’s playing surface, and the IOG would be a willing partner in facilitating a possible solution.

“We would welcome the opportunity to lend our expertise to solve the problem.”

Wembley is set to host a rugby match between Saracens and Harlequins on Saturday and concerns have been raised over the effects upon the pitch condition for the FA Cup Final on 15 May and an England International against Mexico on 24 May.

Posted on 14/04/2010