FA concede need for pitch improvements

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The Football Association have accepted the much-maligned pitch at Wembley Stadium needs to be improved.

The debate over the surface has been rumbling ever since the new stadium was opened two years ago but it intensified over FA Cup semi-final weekend.

The turf proved problematic for Saturday's clash between Arsenal and Chelsea and again for Sunday's tie between Manchester United and Everton, with the top surface appearing spongy and giving way easily under players' feet.

Its harshest critics were the two losing managers. Arsene Wenger branded it "a disaster" and "laughable" while Sir Alex Ferguson said the soil looked "dead" and withdrew three senior players from his starting line-up because of injury concerns ahead of the season's run-in.

The pitch has had to be re-laid five times in two years since the new £750million stadium opened.

The standard of the turf even prompted the Australian Rugby Union to investigate whether it contributed to injuries to two Wallabies in an international against the Barbarians in November last year.

The FA confirmed the state of the pitch is a concern and said they are focusing on improving it for the numerous fixtures in the next two months.

"Whilst recent changes to the surface have seen improvements in player traction, we accept there are still further improvements to be made," a statement from the governing body read.

"Wembley Stadium will continue to work hard to address these issues for our next matches.

"The grounds team has made continual improvements to the pitch since opening in 2007, however, the stadium's unique environment continues to prove challenging."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Premier League
Manchester United
FA Cup

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