This week in Off The Ball, Sports Editor Gurjot Thind pokes fun at the FA’s decision to ruin the Wembley pitch in order to gain much needed funds.
In a shock statement today, FA Chairman Greg Dyke announced that Wembley Stadium would host a number of polo tournaments over the summer in a desperate attempt to tackle the organisation’s crippling debt.
Since the stadium was reopened in 2007, the FA has continued to struggle with the task of paying back the £757 million required to build the new, 90,000-seater stadium.
Attracting polo to Wembley seems to be the answer for Dyke. He said: “Having negotiated with the Federation of International Polo and many of the lucrative Qatari sponsors, we have managed to strike a deal that will see polo being played at Wembley for the next five years.
“Wembley is well suited to host a sport like polo. The dressing rooms can easily be converted into stables, and there’s plenty of parking around the stadium for everyone’s Land Rovers. It’s a win-win situation.
“Polo is quite an exclusive sport and attracts the most famous and glamorous individuals in the world… like Katie Price and Chesney Hawkes. We are hoping to make a large amount of profit from this venture, mostly through charging £200 a ticket and through the sales of Pimms to our punters.”
This is not the first financially motivated scheme the FA has come up with. Recently, three NFL matches were played on the hallowed turf, drawing sell-out crowds and driving profits through the roof through the sale of Coors Light.
But this was not enough for Dyke. He explained: “Yeah, the NFL venture was okay, but not what we expected. We didn’t really sell that many foam-fingers or beer-dispensing hats, so there were definitely a few issues with that idea.”
When asked about the effect polo matches would have on the pitch, Dyke was quick to put English minds at ease. He explained: “There’s absolutely no need to worry about the pitch. During the interval, we’ll just invite everyone to take part in some divot stamping. That should hold the turf together.”
Only time will tell whether this latest scheme will pay off.