IOG and STRI to meet Wembley bosses in bid to solve pitch problems

The Football Association (FA) will today gather experts from the sports turf industry to find a long term solution to the ongoing problems with the Wembley stadium playing surface.

The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) received a formal invitation from Wembley stadium last week and it is understood they will be joined by the pitch consultants, the Sports Turf Research Institute, as well as other stakeholders.

Commenting ahead of the meeting, IOG chief executive Geoff Webb said: "We are really pleased to have been invited along and look forward to finding a long term solution for the national stadium and their playing surface."

The meeting was announced following a week of criticism of the pitch by the media, in the wake of the controversial FA Cup semi-final games in which the pitch provided great incident. 

Adding to Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp's criticisms in the wake of his team's controversial defeat to Portsmouth, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger raised the stakes, warning that the condition of the pitch could jeopardise England's hopes of hosting the 2018 World Cup.

The meeting has been vaunted as a sign of contrition from the FA, who clashed with the IOG over the treatment of previous groundsman Steve Welch.

Welch was made the scapegoat of similar criticisms last year, but the debate has moved on, with a wider recognition that an overloaded schedule of events makes producing pristine turf a major challenge.

A decision on whether or not to re-lay the pitch for the 11th time since 2007 is also expected soon.

Concerns the weekend's rugby match between Saracens and Harlequins will make the pitch unfit for the FA Cup final on 15 May are likely to lead to a new surface being put down. 


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