The Wembley playing surface is a national embarrasment. It has become a major talking point in the wake of last weekend’s FA Cup semi finals. Harry Redknapp, Avram Grant and Martin O’Neill added their voices to those of Sir Alex Ferguson and England manager Fabio Capello in lamenting the pitch.
I was fortunate enough to attend the second semi-final of the weekend – and watched the first on my brand new high definition telly box – and the players could barely change direction without slipping. Michael Dawson, who suffered more than any other, described it as “wet on top, but hard beneath. Unplayable.” James Milner declared it poorer than some lower division surfaces he has played on.
The FA have a lot to answer for. Since its re-opening, the surface has been continually criticised, despite being re-laid on 10 occasions. Wembley is the so-called ‘home of football’, one of the most costly sports stadiums in history, but what’s the point if it’s not fit for a game of football?
The biggest concerns will be with Fabio Capello. England’s last home game before the World Cup is on May 24 against Mexico. Between now and then we have two domestic finals, and a game of rugby taking place on the (once hallowed) turf.
A pitch where traction is at an absolute premium, causes the risk of injuries to be vastly increased. Imagine Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard or worst of all Wayne Rooney slipping and tearing a muscle only weeks before the tournament begins, and all because of the terrible state of the Wembley pitch.
Fabio Capello should be looking seriously at the possibility of moving the game to another ground. The Emirates Stadium boasts a perfect surface week in, week out despite being played on more often. As a supporter I want to see the best football, and with Wembley in its current state that just isn’t possible. Until the pitch is of an acceptable standard, it shouldn’t be allowed to host football.