FA will lay new Wembley pitch before FA Cup final

The prospect of the FA Cup finalists blaming the state of the Wembley pitch for a turgid match being beamed around the world, or, worse, Andorra's part-timers taking advantage of its bobbles and bumps to hold England at bay in June's World Cup qualifier, has persuaded the Football Association to replace the heavily-criticised turf immediately. It will be the sixth surface in two years.

The new sand-soil pitch, which it is hoped will stand up to the rigours of Wembley's all-year entertainment programme better than the current rye grass, is to be installed at a cost of £80,000. It must be ready for the FA Trophy final on 9 May.

There are a further five Football League and non-league matches before the FA Cup final on 30 May. Fabio Capello, who will then oversee England v Andorra on 10 June, had made it clear he was unhappy at the quality of the surface before Arsène Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes dug in to it after last weekend's FA Cup semi-finals. Wenger described the pitch as "laughable" adding: "When you spend £800m, I don't think it is unreasonable to ask for a good pitch."

The FA admitted such comments were the final straw and, after a week's consideration, decided to bring forward plans to relay it in the summer. However, they admit the pitch will never be as good as the top Premier League surfaces as the business plan, without which the stadium would never have been built to such high specifications off the field, depends on staging a huge number of events, including rock concerts and NFL matches, many of which damage the turf.

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