By Chris King •
Updated: 05 Aug 2023 • 17:52
Image of Wembley Stadium.
Credit: Arne Müseler/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 de
Wembley Stadium will have a new state-of-the-art pitch in place for the FA Community Shield between Manchester City and Arsenal.
The game is always the traditional curtain-raiser to herald the arrival of a new football season. Last year’s match was moved to the King Power Stadium in Leicester due to the UEFA Women’s Euro ‘22 Final being played at Wembley on the same date.
This Sunday, August 6, the fixture returns to its usual home where the grounds team has been putting the final touches to a new playing surface.
Several sell-out concerts have been staged at Wembley during the course of this Summer, attended by over half a million people.
As explained in a statement, thankfully, due to the latest advancement in pitch technology, the venue will be prepared to host Sunday’s game despite the abundance of gigs that have taken place there.
The new hybrid carpet of ‘Lay and Play’ grass pitch was grown off-site, on a turf farm hundreds of miles away from the
Once it was ready, more than 720 rolls of the hallowed turf were put on a number of lorries and transported to the iconic London stadium, where it was laid out last week.
At 10 metres long by 1.2 metres – which if laid end-to-end would measure 7km in length – the whole installation took 60 hours to complete.
Karl Standley, Wembley Stadium’s Grounds Manager explained: ‘Lay and Play is a game-changer for a multi-purpose venue like Wembley Stadium. Previously, it might have taken up to five weeks after a concert to get a pitch ready for a football fixture. Now this can be done in just five days’.
‘Growing it offsite means we can ultimately cut down the time required between concerts and football to let the pitch recover, so that Wembley can continue to keep up with global demand to stage world-class events’, he continued.
Before reaching the point at which the meticulous Wembley team was happy that lay-and-play technology could meet their high standards, it took more than three years of research and development.
‘The Wembley pitch is unique and has very certain requirements. It involves a specific blend of sun, water, and nutrients, and takes 14 weeks to get into perfect shape. Even the fertiliser plan is bespoke to our requirements’, added Karl.
‘It is like one big chemistry experiment. We had to test every stage of the process including the grow time, any potential damage during transport and how it reacts when it comes into the stadium. It is a very precise procedure, and we monitor every stage closely’, he detailed.
‘The pitch for this week’s FA Community Shield fixture came into the stadium on July 25 and has settled in nicely. After that, it will be used for the Rugby League Challenge Final before concerts and events including AEW Elite Wrestling at the stadium’, the manager explained.
Karl pointed out that: ‘The next step is to make the whole process sustainable, with the old pitch going back into
grassroots football. At present, the old pitch goes off to a production site where the grass, sand and plastic are
He concluded: ‘The grass decomposes naturally, and the sand is sent back to us so it can be re-used or sent out for use on grassroot pitches. We are close to finding a use for the plastic, whereby it can be melted down and used to produce equipment for sports teams. Eventually, the whole process will be 100 per cent sustainable’.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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