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Wembley surface under attack
by Paul Kennedy, April 21st, 2009 7AM



[ENGLAND] The turf at the old Wembley Stadium was considered the model of the perfectly manicured surface. The turf at the new Wembley Stadium has been relaid five times and was called "laughable" after a weekend of FA Cup play.

The English Football Association went so far as to acknowledge that more improvements need to be made after players slipped during the weekend semifinals.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger called the Wembley turf "a disaster" and "laughable" after the Gunners' 2-1 loss to Chelsea, while Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson dropped three first-team players from the starting lineup for Sunday's FA Cup semifinal against Everton because of concerns the field might injure his players.

"Whilst recent changes to the surface have seen improvements in player traction, we accept there are still further improvements to be made," an FA statement said. "Wembley Stadium will continue to work hard to address these issues for our next matches. The grounds team has made continual improvements to the pitch since opening in 2007, however, the stadium's unique environment continues to prove challenging."

The FA Cup final on May 30 and England-Andorra World Cup qualifier on June 10 are only two of eight games to be played at Wembley before the end of the season.


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