Wembley officials in a sticky spot over sub-standard pitch

Press Releasein Football

wembley.jpgWembley officials were quick to explain why England were asked to perform on another sub-standard playing surface on Saturday.

Madonna's tour bus arrived at Wembley Stadium last month for a one-night sell-out event, the fee from which will take a tiny chunk out of the £350million still owed on the venue.

The Queen of Pop dumped her gear at the West End (naturally) of the stadium, putting up a stage and lighting rigs- in fact, the whole works - as she stopped off in London on her Sticky and Sweet Tour, destroying part of the playing surface in the process.

The much-maligned Wembley turf flies as Theo Walcott is stopped unceremoniously by Alexandr Kirov

Around the area where Matthew Upson's poor back pass almost embarrassed England goalkeeper David James on Saturday, Madonna gyrated around a pole, singing Get Into The Groove in front of tens of thousands of her fans.

It is the price the Football Association, Wembley Stadium and the players will have to pay until the £757m that was spent building the 90,000-seater stadium is paid off around 2023.

Head groundsman Steve Welch needs more than pitchforks to keep the stadium surface in first class condition, using artificial light and fans to replicate conditions outside the stadium, which has little natural light as the sun is barely able to peep over the sprawling roof, even in the height of summer.

Although Fabio Capello dispatched England's general manager Franco Baldini to Wembley on Friday night to check on the conditions, he was not aware that the pitch would rut to such an extent under the feet of the country's finest footballers the following day.

There are six England internationals a season at the national stadium, plus regular events such as the FA Cup Final, the Carling Cup Final and the Football League play-off matches.

But there will be 42 live events this year at the multi-functional Wembley.

In two weeks, Wembley will open its doors to the NFL for an American football game between the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints.

Rugby union and motorsport's Race of Champions will also find a home there.

Then the race will be onto prepare a decent pitch for England's next home match, against Slovakia on Saturday, March 28.

Source:-Mail on Line

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