Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fa Say They Can't Fix Wembley Pitch until 2023; Loan Repayments Force Stadium into Multi-Use and Means Grass Will Be Relaid Seven Times a Year

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fa Say They Can't Fix Wembley Pitch until 2023; Loan Repayments Force Stadium into Multi-Use and Means Grass Will Be Relaid Seven Times a Year

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley Football Correspondent

ENGLAND'S chances of hosting the World Cup in 2018 could be harmed by the news that the pitch at Wembley Stadium may have to be relaid as many as seven times a year until 2023.

A crisis meeting held today at the stadium attended by ground staff consultants, Football Association officials and the Institute of Groundsmanship failed to come up with any solution to the current problems other than having to constantly rip up the surface at a potential cost of over [pounds sterling]8million.

It is thought that the pitch will be relaid before the Carling Cup and FA Cup Finals and at regular intervals throughout the season to coincide with England friendlies.

Geoff Webb of The IoG revealed that because of ongoing loan repayments the stadium will remain multi-purpose for the next 12 years at least.

"It is quite common for this to be the case at venue of this kind," he said.

"The FA have admitted that the pitch that was laid for the FA Cup semi-finals was too hard. But they hope that in future they will be able to solve the problem."

Having spent more than [pounds sterling]750m on the stadium, the FA need to service their debts and have consequently allowed major sporting events to take place there, including rugby union and NFL matches, while the venue is regularly used to stage big concerts. The easy alternative would be to reduce the number of events at the stadium but the FA are hamstrung by the debts.

The latest set of figures available at Companies House showed Wembley suffered huge pre-tax losses of [pounds sterling]31.1m, following its [pounds sterling]53.3m pre-tax loss in 2007.

At present, it is not expected to break even until 2014 and that will only occur if the number of events presently held stays at its present rate. It is still possible that Wembley could default on agreements with banks over its [pounds sterling]326m loans if Club Wembley sales drop, which would certainly be the case if fewer events were held. …

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