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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Russian FA rules out pitch switch
Michael Davis, Fieldturf
Davis says Fieldturf were in talks with the RFF to replace the pitch
The Russian Football Federation (RFF) has decided against upgrading the synthetic pitch for next week's Euro 2008 qualifier against England.

The BBC's Inside Sport programme was told a new surface could have cancelled out any advantage Russia may have had.

Russia, who lost 3-0 to England in September, play the return fixture on 17 October at Moscow's Luzhniki Olympic Stadium, which has an artificial pitch.

Fieldturf, the firm who laid the pitch, had spoken to the RFF about a change.

"After the defeat (at Wembley), they said that they will play on the existing surface," said company spokesman Michael Davis.

"The Russians had agreed there would be a new surface but the result at Wembley changed that."

606: DEBATE

However, a spokeswoman for the Luzhniki Stadium said: "There was no official proposition to put in a new pitch.

"The old artificial pitch is still in good condition. At the end of April, we will put in grass because Uefa demands it for the 2008 Champions League final."

Uefa regulations stipulate that the match must be played on grass.

The artificial pitch is deemed necessary because of the Russian climate, as regular grass pitches can often be destroyed by cold weather.

England will prepare for the qualifier in Moscow by using a state-of-the-art artificial pitch at a school in Altrincham.

Some of the Russian players will have played on that surface before, knowing that the England players haven'T

Michael Davis of Fieldturf

The Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College boasts the only exact replica of the Moscow pitch and their surface was also installed by Fieldturf.

Davis believes that the current pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium will give Russia an advantage over England.

"Some of the Russian players will have played on that surface before, knowing that the England players haven't," he added.

"Put a brand new surface in and it's a level playing field, nobody's played on it."

But a RFF spokesman disputed Russia would have a significant advantage, pointing out that only two members of their squad - Dmitry Torbinsky and Roman Pavluchenko - play regularly on the artificial surface.

Torbinsky and Pavluchenko are on the books of Spartak Moscow, who, along with Torpedo Moscow, play at the Luzhniki.

During England's victory at Wembley, Torbinsky was an unused substitute, while Pavluchenko came on for the last 27 minutes.



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