Clubs fume over ‘deplorable’ Sydney Cricket Ground pitch

Footballers and rugby players have sustained injuries from slipping on the uneven pitch, and have complained the grounds are not up to standard. (Pic from Sydney Cricket Ground website)

SYDNEY: Australia’s football players’ union Sunday demanded an investigation into the “deplorable” Sydney Cricket Ground pitch after midfielder Terry Antonis suffered a potentially serious knee injury during an A-League game.

Antonis collapsed to the ground in the second half of the match on Saturday between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC after slipping on the uneven surface when no-one else was around him.

Professional Footballers Australia chief executive John Didulica said the pitch was in a “deplorable state” and clearly dangerous as he demanded answers from Football Federation Australia as to how the game was allowed to go ahead.

“The players confirmed with us last night that they were not consulted at any stage on whether or not the match should proceed, notwithstanding the clear issues that the pitch presented to their livelihoods,” he said.

“As demonstrated, cricket wickets present an unreasonable danger to the health and safety of footballers and it remains the view of the PFA that players are under no obligation to participate in matches when such risks are present.”

The iconic cricket ground is being used for soccer and rugby while the neighbouring Sydney Football Stadium is demolished and rebuilt.

Last month, large sections of the hallowed turf was ripped apart during a Super Rugby game between the NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds.

Management were forced to replace 3,000 square metres of grass afterwards in preparation for a rugby league match.

Sydney FC chief Danny Townsend said the pitch “clearly wasn’t up to the standards required for professional football” and said the club could move its next match elsewhere.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat said it was too early to assess Antonis’ injury, but he has been ruled out of their AFC Champions League clash with Guangzhou Evergrande in China this week.

“That simply is not good enough,” he said of the pitch. “Not for the contest tonight (Saturday), not for anything.”

Sydney won the game 2-1.