A-League boss Greg O’Rourke has admitted SCG ground conditions were unacceptable despite being approved for the match in which Melbourne Victory star Terry Antonis suffered a suspected serious knee injury.
O’Rourke on Sunday foreshadowed Sydney FC home games being moved elsewhere and also promised the league would review decision-making leading up to the match.
It comes amid a storm of criticism after Victory midfielder Antonis went down untouched on the uneven turf, prompting his coach Kevin Muscat to label the pitch “dangerous.”
Antonis was undergoing scans on Sunday and missed his team’s trip to China for their AFC Champions League clash with heavyweights Guangzhou Evergrande.
With second-placed Sydney FC scheduled to meet leaders Perth Glory in a blockbuster clash at the SCG in 11 days, FFA officials will meet with the club and SCG ground management on Monday to discuss the problems.
“Last night’s conditions were unacceptable,” said O’Rourke.
“If we are not confident that the ground will improve significantly then alternate venues would be sought in the future for Sydney FC home matches.
FFA understood the demands on the surface — which now has five codes using it while the neighbouring football stadium is redeveloped.
But, O’Rouke added: “It appears that the needs of our code around surface condition may not be able to be met, despite the best intentions of all.”
He acknowledged league “processes” had approved the surface as playable and safe before the match.
“These processes include pitch inspections in the days leading up to the game and on game day by Sydney FC, SCG, the match commissioner and the referees.”
“If we are not comfortable with the process undertaken, we will have no hesitation in finding a better way for next season,” he said.
The Antonis incident occurred near the SCG’s wicket square on turf that had been replaced in February after being ripped up in a rugby match.
Sydney FC CEO Danny Townsend confirmed his club’s readiness to move elsewhere if needed.
“The pitch clearly wasn’t up to the standards required for professional football and we are working with the SCG Trust and FFA to assess its suitability to host our game against Perth in 11 days’ time,” Townsend said.
“All options are on the table, including moving the game, and those discussions are already underway.”
Jubilee Stadium in Sydney’s south, where the Sky Blues will play Wednesday’s AFC Champions League game against Shanghai SIPG, is believed to be the club’s preferred venue.
The players’ association came out swinging on Sunday, seeking an independent investigation of the playing surface.
PFA chief executive John Didulica demanded clarity from FFA as to how the match was allowed to proceed “given the deplorable state of the SCG’s pitch, and the clear danger it posed to player safety.”
The PFA will convene a meeting with its A-League delegates this week and recommend a motion that players will no longer play on surfaces “unacceptably compromised by a cricket wicket.”
A statement from the SCG Trust said that the field had been inspected by “independent experts” in the past two weeks with satisfactory results recorded for all codes.