Wembley to replace turf immediately

The Wembley Stadium turf will be dug up and replaced following criticism after last weekend's FA Cup semi-finals.

The Football Association said today that the rye-grass playing surface will be replaced by a sand-soil turf in time for the FA Trophy clash between Stevenage and York on 9 May.

Arsene Wenger branded the grass "a disaster" after his Arsenal side lost to Chelsea on Saturday in the FA Cup semi-finals. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson called the surface "dead" following his club's penalty shootout defeat to Everton the next day.

"Wembley Stadium is a multipurpose venue and needs to be able to offer both a quality playing surface and a quality calendar of events," the FA said. "The pitch has always been and will continue to be at the heart of the stadium and of the business."

The FA Cup final will be played on 30 May at Wembley.

The 90,000-seat stadium opened two years ago at huge cost. The stands block much of the sunlight from the grass, which has also been damaged by concerts and other sports events.

The stadium will host a new tournament, the Wembley Cup, in July featuring Spanish league leader Barcelona, Tottenham, Scottish club Celtic and Egypt title holder Al Ahli.