Wembley ‘Not Fit For Football’

The pitch at Wembley Stadium is damaging the English soccer team and isn’t good enough to stage the 2012 Olympic football competition, according to Arsenal team manager Arsene Wenger.

Wenger and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson both launched scathing attacks on the playing surface, after both their teams played (and lost) their FA Cup semi-finals there.

The grass problem has its roots in the Football Association and Wembley needing to produce a pitch of international standards while also needing to host enough other events to cover operating costs and huge development loans.

So far, they haven’t been able to find a surface that can stand up to the many concerts and other events staged on it.

“When you spend £800 million [on the stadium], I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a good pitch,” Wenger told the Daily Telegraph as the stadium chiefs admitted the situation is “untenable” and said they will now be laying a new type of field.

Since Wembley opened in 2007, it has had five playing surfaces – each at a cost of about £100,000 ($145, 539) – but none has matched what the ground staff produced at the old stadium.

Originally the plan was to use plastic decking to cover the pitch when other events are staged, but some take days to set up and break down and the grass deteriorates underneath.

The majority of Premier League soccer clubs prefer a seeded pitch – which has fibres to reinforce the grass – but the FA says (and the various manufacturers dispute) this type of pitch can’t be rolled up because it takes too long to bed down.

The next six months will likely exacerbate the problem as the national soccer team has home games against Andorra, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia and Belarus, interspersed with other events including concerts by AC/DC, Take That, Oasis, U2 and Coldplay.

American football will take place there Oct. 25, when the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the New England Patriots.