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Sydney FC match moved from Sydney Cricket Ground after pitch furore

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Sydney FC’s top of the table A-League clash against Perth Glory this month has been moved away from the Sydney Cricket Ground after a furore over the ‘dangerous’ pitch at the iconic stadium during the weekend.

Australia’s players’ union joined Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat in slamming the SCG pitch after visiting midfielder Terry Antonis suffered a knee injury during a match against Sydney FC on Saturday night.

Head of Leagues Greg O’Rourke said that although the Football Federation Australia (FFA) considered the surface to be “playable and safe”, the April 18 fixture would be moved to Jubilee Oval “in the best interests of all stakeholders”.

“The SCG’s (cricket) wicket block … compromises the uniformity of the field for football in particular,” he said in a joint statement with Sydney FC and the SCG.

Antonis fell to the ground untouched on the edge of the cricket square during a 2-1 loss for his side in a clash between the last two Australian champions.

Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) called for an independent investigation into how the match was allowed to go ahead given the ‘deplorable state’ of the pitch, which the body said posed a clear danger to player safety.

The SCG is being used by soccer, rugby league and rugby union teams in addition to hosting its usual cricket and Australian Rules matches while the neighbouring Sydney Football Stadium (SFS) is re-built.

Some 3,000 square metres of turf were relaid after the surface was torn up during a rugby union match last month.

Sydney FC travel to city rivals Western Sydney Wanderers next weekend but are assured of still being in second place behind Perth, who are six points clear at the top of the A-League, going into the match the following week.

“This is a hugely important fixture with first playing second and we want the narrative to be about the football,” Sydney FC Chief Executive Danny Townsend said.

“This is a decision made in the viewing interest of members and supporters.”

The SCG has hosted test cricket since 1882 and was the venue for hundreds of rugby league and union matches before the SFS was completed in 1988.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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