Wembley resolves pitch troubles ahead of CL final
Wembley Stadium's chairman has assured UEFA ahead of the Champions League final in May that the problems with the much criticized playing surface have finally been resolved by installing a partially artificial pitch.
In the three years after England's rebuilt national stadium was completed in 2007, the pitch had to be relaid more than 10 times after players and managers complained about the sandy, uneven - and often dangerous - surface.
The new pitch, which features millions of synthetic grass fibers woven in between and beneath the natural grass, was installed in June and has successfully staged England matches and an NFL game last month.
A major test for the pitch will come when Wembley hosts the Champions League final on May 28.
''Absolutely (UEFA) have been concerned - had we not made the change I would have had concerns,'' Wembley Stadium chairman David Bernstein told The Associated Press on Thursday. ''I am sure UEFA are happy now. We have had great plaudits from top league managers and players that we weren't getting before.
''I can look forward to the Champions League final with complete confidence knowing that the pitch will be A1.''
Bernstein said the Desso surface wasn't installed earlier because of concerns it wouldn't regenerate quickly. The Football Association uses Wembley often - including for music concerts - to recoup some of the 800 million pound (then $1.57 billion) cost.
''Rather than ripping up the pitch and putting a new one down, this has to self-generate, the grass has to grow,'' Bernstein said. ''We were concerned it might take longer than our timetable allowed for that to happen. But in fact we have now tested it with concerts, American football, rugby and it worked extremely well.
''We know now we can fit our timetable around the pitch quite comfortably.''
Bernstein was speaking at the stadium after the branding for the final was launched featuring lions gripping onto the European Cup.