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Friday, 17 January, 2003, 15:50 GMT
Panel to rule on pitch row
Stamford Bridge's poor playing surface
Charlton said there was no grass on Chelsea's pitch
The Premier League is to form a panel to decide whether Charlton's match with Chelsea should be replayed.

The panel will sift through the largely contradictory evidence submitted by both clubs before making a balanced decision.

"In the circumstances the board has decided to set up a formal inquiry to establish whether or not there is any case to answer," said a Premier League spokesman.

"It is intended that this will take place at the earliest opportunity in order to protect the integrity of the competition."

There was absolutely no grass on it - they'd packed it down with sand

Alan Curbishley

Chief executive Richard Scudamore, chairman Dave Richards and secretary Mike Foster will meet again in the next seven to 10 days, along with officials from both clubs, to establish the facts.

If they decide Chelsea have a case to answer, a commission will be set up to investigate the case.

The Addicks are claiming their 4-1 defeat was played "on an artificial sand surface", which contravenes League rules.

"We were totally unprepared for the conditions and it wasn't a fair situation," said Curbishley.

"We weren't informed what sort of surface we would be playing on."

"It reminded me of a piece of land about to have a patio laid on it."

Referee Mike Dean
Referee Mike Dean passed the pitch fit to play

Charlton chief executive Peter Varney has compiled a dossier of photographic and video footage in support of their complaint.

The Addicks claim Chelsea were in breach of League rule 17 section one which states: "No league match will be played on an artificial surface."

"At no time prior to our fixture at Stamford Bridge on 11 January were we informed by Chelsea that we would be playing on an artificial sand surface," said Varney.

"On arrival at Stamford Bridge, we were advised by Chelsea officials that the game was in doubt and the pitch was being inspected by the match referee, Mike Dean.

But Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri insists that games are often played on surfaces far worse than the current pitch at Stamford Bridge.

"I always accept every decision," said Ranieri. "I'm used to winning and losing on the pitch.

"I have watched a lot of matches with the pitch full of snow. In the Champions League in Moscow the pitch was covered in snow."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Nigel Adderley
"Charlton say it amounted to an artificial pitch"
Charlton boss Alan Curbishley
"It looked like someone was about to lay a patio"
Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri
"We didn't train on the pitch all week"
 VOTE RESULTS
Should Chelsea v Charlton be replayed because of the pitch?

Yes
 55.07% 

No
 44.93% 

25232 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

In the wake of the controversy surrounding Chelsea's pitch, we look at horror surfaces from days gone by.
Mud, sweat and cheers


BBC Sport Online takes a look at the state of the pitch at Stamford BridgeSand blast
Chelsea's Stamford Bridge pitch under fire
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