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Wembley official says pitch ready for League Cup final

Wembley pitch 'fantastic' for final

By Leon Mann
BBC Sport

The man in charge of Wembley Stadium has assured Arsenal and Birmingham supporters that there will be no problems with the pitch at Sunday's Carling Cup final.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson blamed the poor surface at Wembley for an injury to striker Michael Owen at last year's final, while Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp also criticised the pitch following his sides FA Cup semi-final defeat to Portsmouth in April.

But Roger Maslin, managing director of Wembley Stadium Ltd, told BBC Sport: "I won't lose any sleep worrying about how the pitch will play now the changes have been made."

Maslin has led the move to install a Desso pitch, for a trial period of a year, instead of continuing to replace the surface throughout the season.

The Desso pitch, which was laid in June last year, meant the top foot of the old surface replaced by new seeded grass which is strengthened with artificial fibre, which makes up 3% of the playing surface. Arsenal, Real Madrid and Monaco are among the top European clubs to have a Desso pitch.

"For Arsenal who have a Desso surface they will recognise the quality of surface, the lack of divots and the speed of play. It's in fantastic condition," said Maslin. "It's fundamental to our business plan to have the best possible playing surface, but at the same time it accords with our business plan as a multi-use venue."

[Capello] understands that we are a multi-purpose event holder and it's a juggling act

Roger Maslin

Maslin stated there was only "internal pressure" to address the ongoing issues with the pitch and revealed England manager Fabio Capello and assistant Franco Baldini have been consulted about the change.

"They are delighted with what we've now done and I think the really good news is the England team are now training here which I think is fantastic and itself is a statement," Maslin added proudly.

"From his [Capello's] point of view he would clearly like for the England team to have the best possible surface and to make sure that the only thing we were ever to do on that surface is play football. But he understands that we are a multi-purpose event holder and it's a juggling act."

Uefa has also taken a keen interest in the state of the pitch, with Wembley hosting the Champions League final on 28 May. To ensure the surface is in its best condition no other sport except football will be played on the pitch until Uefa's showpiece event.

"It gives you that extra confidence," Maslin explained. "Although I have no doubts whatsoever that if we did have a rugby union game there we could deliver a brilliant surface for the Champions League.

"I think we can all learn lessons from the Wembley experience in terms of what we can do with the particular surface."

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see also
Injured Walcott out of cup final
23 Feb 11 |  Arsenal
Hleb may miss Carling Cup final
19 Feb 11 |  Birmingham
Wembley pitch consultants resign
23 Jun 10 |  Football
Wembley surface worries Ferdinand
24 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Wembley set for talks over pitch
14 Apr 10 |  Football

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