Manchester United pull Old Trafford from running to be World Cup venue

Organisers turn to Manchester City to provide stadium for 2015 tournament

Manchester United have pulled Old Trafford out of the running to be a venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup due to concerns over the likely damage to the pitch.

Tournament organisers are now in advanced talks with Manchester City about holding matches at the Etihad Stadium instead and are confident of achieving a positive outcome.

England 2015 had hoped to hold up to three matches at Old Trafford and are anxious to retain Manchester as a host city even though the Etihad's capacity is 16,000 smaller than Old Trafford's 76,000.

Organisers are in the latter stages of developing the schedule, and a final announcement is expected later this month when the Olympic Stadium is also expected to named as a host venue.

United are installing a new pitch this summer - a Desso pitch like Wembley's which combines grass and artificial fibres - and there were concerns that rugby union games would be too damaging.

The tournament is taking place in September and October 2015 and United are likely to be involved in the group stages of the Champions League at that time.

The club are also due to host rugby league's Grand Final in 2015, though league is not as hard going on pitches as union.

The architecture of Old Trafford, with high, steep stands, makes the recovery of the grass even more difficult due to the affect on air circulation and sunlight reaching the pitch.

PA

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