Zenit move league game after pitch at St Petersburg’s new stadium cuts up

By Samindra Kunti

May 17 – Zenit St. Petersburg have been forced to play tonight’s (Wednesday) league match with FC Krasnodar at another ground after the pitch at the Krestovsky stadium was deemed to be too poor for the fixture. 

The Krestovsky stadium is the venue for this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup final. The newly built stadium is also slotted to host the opening game between hosts Russia and New Zealand.

Large chunks of the newly installed grass at the Krestovsky stadium were torn up in the two games played there so far. Zenit St. Petersburg inaugurated the stadium with a 2-0 victory against Ural Yekaterinburg, but the club and the local organising committee have decided to move Wednesday’s fixture against FC Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League.

Zenit say the decision “will allow organisers to completely prepare the St. Petersburg Stadium pitch” for the Confederations Cup and “will spare the young grass pitch extra strain.”

The match will be played at Zenit’s old Petrovsky stadium. The completion and opening of the new stadium has been a long time in the making after a decade of scandals over bloated bills and missed deadlines. Construction began in 2007, but the arena was criticized for an overrun budget of 41 billion rubles (£567 million).

Last August a new constructor Metrostroy was appointed to complete the stadium construction, but misgivings over the retractable playing field caused further delays. FIFA, the game’s governing body, finally approved the venue in December.

The venue in Saint Petersburg will also host Cameroon vs Australia on June 22 with the final group game being New Zealand vs Portugal on June 24. Next year the Krestovsky Stadium will host a World Cup semi-final.

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