Wembley promises perfect pitch for final

LONDON - The Wembley Stadium pitch will be in outstanding condition for this season's Champions League final, the chairman of Wembley David Bernstein said on Thursday.

The pitch was heavily criticised following the stadium's re-opening in 2007 but has improved dramatically this season following a series of new innovations.

"We did have some well-publicised issues surrounding the pitch. But I can say with total confidence they are all behind us," Bernstein said after UEFA unveiled the branding for the match.

"The new system installed in the latter part of this year has been outstanding and been complimented on by managers and the players who have used it.

"We are confident it will be of the highest standard for the Champions League final and worthy of Europe's top two teams."

He also told Reuters: "I am confident the pitch will be in outstanding condition. There is no non-football related actvity, no concerts or anything on the pitch in the months leading up to the final. The stadium will be a fitting venue for the biggest match in club football."

The final will take place on May 28 and will be the first back in London since Barcelona beat Sampdoria in the 1992 European Cup final, the last before the Champions League began the following season.

The old Wembley also hosted the finals in 1963, 1968, 1971, and 1978.

"There are three London clubs in the competition, Chelsea, Arsenal and my old team Spurs, but its an odd fact that no London club has ever won the European Cup. Perhaps this season, with the final at Wembley, we will see the first," former England captain Gary Lineker said.

UEFA announced on Thursday that the women's Champions League final will also be staged in London and played at Fulham's Craven Cottage ground on May 26.