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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 23:00 GMT
Chelsea win pitch battle
Stamford Bridge's poor playing surface
Charlton said there was no grass on Chelsea's pitch
A Premier League board has ruled Chelsea's 4-1 win over Charlton in January will stand despite the Addicks' protests over the state of the pitch.

Charlton claimed their defeat was played "on an artificial sand surface", which contravenes League rules.

But the specially-formed panel decided that the beach-like surface was not illegal 'within the meaning of the Premier League rules'.

The inquiry accepted the referee's assertion that the surface was playable.

The treatment of our club, both prior to and on the day of the match, was unacceptable

Charlton chief Peter Varney

But Chelsea were fined 5,000, plus costs believed to be 2,000-3,000, for breaking Premier League rules governing conduct between clubs.

They were criticised for a lack of communication with Charlton about the state of the pitch in the week before the game.

Charlton chief executive Peter Varney said the club were "extremely surprised" at the Premier League's decision.

He told the Addicks' website: "FA Premier League rules require all matches to be played on natural grass.

"The Chelsea v Charlton fixture on 11 January was played on a predominantly sand surface, and in addition to this, the treatment of our club, both prior to and on the day of the match, was unacceptable.

"Because of this, we are extremely surprised by the decision taken by the FA Premier League board, particularly as the fine levied is the same as that given to clubs whose matches kick off a few minutes late."

Varney has requested the Premier League publish in full the report of the inquiry team.

"It has been suggested in some quarters that we should have refused to play the fixture once we saw the pitch, but that would almost certainly have resulted in our club having points deducted," he added.

"We have no doubt that the matter would have been dealt with differently, both on the day and subsequently, had the opposition been one of the sides challenging for the title."

Charlton boss Alan Curbishkey insisted at the time his side were "totally unprepared" for the conditions.

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

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


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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