Wembley Woes

by Ashleigh Rose

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Blame it on the pitch

Ok time to admit it, the shiny, ultra-improved new Wembley has become a bit of an embarrassment for the FA now hasn’t it? England’s new ‘home of football’ was meant to be the shining light in the 2018 World Cup bid and a state of the art football stadium for the country to revel in. But once again this weekend, two games consisting of four of the Premier League’s top six teams fail to light up this famous arena. Of course that’s not ultimately the fault of the venue, none of the four sides can look fondly on their performances over the weekend, but their main complaint seems to be that state of the Wembley pitch. Both Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson hit out at how dry and easily cut up the pitch was so, Fergie even going so far to say that the pitch was the reason he rested his big names and he didn’t want them bogged down on the sappy pitch. Granted both these comments come from the losing semi-final managers and may just seem like sour grapes but they are not the first. Croatia manager Slaven Bilic also criticized the turf after it was ripped to shreds during their victory over England that saw the end of our Euro 2008 hopes. Much of the blame for the pitch, which has been laid FIVE times in just the two years since it opened, has been because of holding such events as the NFL, Aussie Rules and the Race of Champions events at Wembley all of which have a negative event on the pitch. The only reason these events are even taking place is so that the FA can claw back the massive debt they’ve occurred on Wembley. Which is also why we are seeing the FA Cup Semi-Final’s played there instead of more traditional venues like Villa Park and Old Trafford – leaving the final with an even less feel of occasion. Well done once again to the FA!

It’s just not the pitch either, I’ve been to the new Wembley a number of times including the first England game in 2007, and it just lacks the same WOW factor that the old Twin Towers used to create, and just feels like any other Emirates or Eastlands. I remember when just the awe of Wembley inspired teams and matches that have since gone down in football folklore. How many entertaining games stick out in the memory from the new Wembley? I can only think of this year’s Johnston Paint Trophy Final and that’s pushing it. Even the Royal Box isn’t the same, there are too many steps and the camera angle doesn’t look as good on the TV when the trophy is lifted.

I know that for the good of the game Wembley had to move on, but having seen one fiasco after another whilst building the thing, the FA will hope that things can only get better for the venue, to avoid it being a fiasco altogether.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Darren

    I’ve played on better Sunday League pitches then that. How can you spend 700m on a stadium with a pitch like that? The ball was bobbling all over the show, all be it a very terrible one. Both games were appalling. It was an atmosphere free zone too. At times the Arsenal game felt like a training game.

    Both games should have been played at Villa Park. The only reason they play them at Wembley is to make more money for the Prawns.

    The roof doesn’t work either. Another example of the FA’s complete incompetence.

  • Ash

    It was also ridiculous to have an all London semi-final on a Saturday night and all all Northern teamed semi final (that went to pens) on a Sunday evening. Or was this decided before the teams were drawn out?

  • Dexy Longshot

    it’s not from want of trying, the pitch has been relaid 5 times in last 2 years.

    The last quality FA Cup Final was when the mighty Hammers were robbed by flukey Steven Gerrard goal at Cardiff!!

  • Ash

    There was nothing flukey about that goal! Pure class from a pure class player!

  • Dexy Longshot

    tongue and cheek ash me old mate, and lots of bitterness! I was there ready to take the cup back to the Bolyen for a good old knees up!!

  • mickey marbles

    I were’nt happy last night when I got back at 2 in the morning. I was talking about the London Saturday strollers (they can all stroll home in time for Britains got no talent) last week. It’s the poor kids I feel sorry for getting up for there paper rounds at 5:30.


  • Dan Church

    on the other point, that the new Wembley doesnt have the WOW factor, i put this down to it being too easy to play there…..every domestic cup final down the the FA vase is played there, play off finals are played there (how is it fair that the team coming 2nd in the league just gets to go up yet the team finishing 6th gets to go up, plus a trophy, plus play at Wembley?) its supposed to be a privaledge to play at Wembley, England internationals, FA Cup Final and League Cup Final only should be played there…..

  • Nick

    I also think its an absolute disgrace that only half (50,000) of the seats for the final will go to the fans while 40,000 will go to corporates who probably dont even know which teams are playing never mind the names of the players.

    But I’ll still try to get a ticket for the final and I guess the FA knows that all the games will sell out however badly they treat the paying fans.

Previous post:

Next post: