Finalists offered chance to get used to Wembley playing surface

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The Independent Online

The Football Association yesterday took the unprecedented step of agreeing to let FA Cup finalists Chelsea and Portsmouth train on the Wembley pitch ahead of tomorrow's final so both sides could have a look at the problematic surface.

The decision follows farcical scenes at last month's FA Cup semi-finals, in which players had trouble keeping their feet. The Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said afterwards: "I wouldn't run horses on that pitch. It's a scandal."

The pitch has since been ripped up and relaid at an estimated cost of £90,000, and last weekend received mixed reviews when it hosted its first two games – the FA Trophy and FA Vase finals.

Chelsea approached the FA about the possibility of training on the pitch on the eve of the final, which is common practice for Champions League ties, and the FA agreed that each team would be allowed one hour at Wembley to assess the surface and for players to try out different types of studs.

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