Sort Wembley out if you want 2018: Arsene Wenger slams 'unacceptable' pitch

Arsene Wenger insists the terrible Wembley pitch must be fixed to keep England’s 2018 World Cup bid on track.

The £800million national stadium would be the venue for a World Cup final if England staged the tournament in eight years’ time, but the Arsenal boss said the current playing surface was ‘unacceptable’.

Wenger said: ‘I support the England 2018 bid, and I can’t imagine they’ll go into that
campaign with a bad pitch.

VIDEO: Wenger on Wembley pitch...

‘I don’t know if it would harm England’s campaign, but they have to sort out the problem. It cannot remain that everybody complains about the pitch after the game. It’s not good enough.

‘The most recognisable and well-known football stadium in the world has a bad pitch, and that is unacceptable.

‘This is a football country and the best league in the world. We have to show the world that we have the best pitches in the world as well.’


The FA are now deliberating whether to spend another £90,000 to relay the pitch for the 11th time in three years.

A Wembley Stadium spokesperson said: ‘We accept and understand the frustrations around the standard of the pitch at Wembley for last weekend’s FA Cup semi-finals.

‘We are currently reviewing all options to provide the best surface for the busy period going forward, including a probable pitch replacement. We will make this decision after the weekend.’

But the pitch Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp called a ‘disgrace’ after last weekend’s FA Cup semi-finals was laid only four weeks ago.

Wenger warned: ‘I’ve seen it’s been relaid 10 times. Maybe that isn’t the solution. Maybe they have to go deeper into the problem.’

Tottenham striker Peter Crouch labelled the surface ‘ridiculous’ after seeing team-mate Michael Dawson slip in the build-up to Portsmouth’s opening goal on Sunday.


The pitch was not watered after Saturday’s clash between Aston Villa and Chelsea, where both sets of players had trouble keeping their footing, but it was still slippery on top and rock hard underneath the following day.

The Wembley spokesperson said: ‘The problems faced on Saturday were due to the way the surface was prepared and the measures used overnight were unable to resolve the situation sufficiently for the match on Sunday.’

Wembley’s enduring problem is that it needs to host non-football events to generate revenue. But staging rugby union club matches, rugby league’s Challenge Cup final, NFL matches and music concerts takes its toll on the quality of the surface. This also increases the risk of players picking up injuries.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, for instance, said the ‘heavy’ pitch played its part in the hamstring injury that curtailed Michael Owen’s season in the Carling Cup final back in February.


England players such as Frank Lampard, John Terry and David James are now due back at Wembley for Chelsea’s FA Cup final against Portsmouth on May 15. England also play a friendly against Mexico at Wembley on May 24.

An FA spokesman said: ‘There is a unique challenge with the surface at Wembley and we are working with expert pitch consultants to get it right.

‘Wembley Stadium is a multi-purpose venue and we have to hold other events as part of the business plan, which means regular pitch replacements.

‘Football is the No 1 priority and we understand we have to find a way to deliver and sustain a consistent quality pitch and replicate the successful formula that we developed in the second half of last year.’

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now