Players gave Wembley's pitch their seal of approval yesterday

Press Releasein Football

Wembley may have gone synthetic but the natural world, as well as the players, gave the new surface its blessing yesterday.

A squirrel provided 15 minutes of pre-match entertainment before the Community Shield by hopping about on the newly-laid pitch and evading a pursuing groundsman before disappearing down a tunnel.

The expensive stars of Manchester United and Chelsea then proceeded to show equally deft balance and poise as they kept their footing on a surface that has resembled a skating rink since the stadium opened three years ago.

After 11 previous relaying attempts, the Football Association at last appear to have got it right by going for the Desso system, which uses 20 million artificial fibres to support the natural grass.

The cost - £250,000 - is peanuts compared to the £750 million spent on building the stadium and will be well worth it if it stands up to the number of sporting and musical events staged at the venue. The informed word is that the pitch should continue to improve as the roots of the natural grass further entwine with the artificial fibres.

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