0 Sunderland accused after Reading game called off

Sunderland's decision to host a series of pop concerts over the summer will be questioned after they were forced to call off their opening home game of the season against Reading, whose manager Brian McDermott said there was "obviously a problem" with the Stadium of Light's newly-laid pitch.

Martin O'Neill and Brian McDermott check the Sunderland pitch - Concerns over Sunderland's newly laid pitch as eight non-league games go ahead while Premier League clash with Reading is called off

Referee Neil Swarbrick deemed the pitch unplayable less than an hour and a half before kick-off following a spell of heavy rain and after consultation with managers Martin O'Neill and McDermott.

But with 11 of 12 local non-league fixtures going ahead across the North East, the decision to call off a Premier League game in August for weather reasons raised eyebrows across the country. McDermott criticised the surface, saying the game would have gone ahead at the Madejski Stadium.

Sunderland have successfully turned the Stadium of Light into a concert venue to increase revenue streams outside of the football season, but having hosted Coldplay, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Bruce Springsteen in May and June, the pitch could not be re-laid as early as other clubs, which may well have contributed to the drainage problems.

Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne said: "We will meet with our pitch consultants immediately to carry out a full analysis of today's events."

The club last night said they were not willing to divulge the name of their pitch "consultants", but a club source claimed the concerts were not to blame, insisting they have been holding similar events at the stadium since 2009.

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