THE SCG surface has been branded "dangerous" and "deplorable" by A-League soccer officials, raising fears that the ground won't be up to standard when Sydney hosts Melbourne in their AFL clash on Thursday night.
The soccer league's player union has demanded an independent inquiry into how the SCG surface gained approval to host an A-League game between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
Exacerbating matters, Victory player Terry Antonis suffered a suspected serious knee injury, which his angry coach Kevin Muscat suggested was caused by the surface. Antonis went down after running onto the traditional cricket-wicket area.
Despite the concerns, an AFL spokesperson said the League was confident the surface would meet League standards by Thursday night.
The AFL Players' Association is closely monitoring the situation. The AFLPA inspected the SCG before the Swans' home game against Adelaide in round two and gave it the all-clear. Following the latest developments, the player union again plans to inspect the surface this week and keep an eye on its condition in coming weeks.
The Swans wouldn't be drawn into the debate but said on Sunday they would be in favour of the centre-wicket area being reduced to a single drop-in pitch, as is employed at some other venues that stage football and cricket.
"The Sydney Swans experience grounds like the Adelaide Oval and the MCG who manage elite sporting surfaces with a drop-in wicket, so we would support this being considered," Swans chief executive officer Tom Harley said in a statement issued by the club.
"As a key tenant of the SCG, we want the ground to be showcased in the best possible light on the world stage and, as such, we will continue working closely with the SCG Trust (which manages the stadium)."
The SCG Trust has previously resisted calls to introduce a drop-in pitch.
Muscat was scathing of the surface on Saturday night.
"To ask players to come to work and work under those conditions is unacceptable," he said.
"There might be a serious injury as a result from it. For players to go out on to that – whatever it's called – is a disgrace.
"That surface was not conducive to a ball rolling on it. First and foremost, it was dangerous."
Football Federation Australia will meet with the SCG Trust and Sydney FC on Monday to discuss their concerns about the surface and contingencies for future A-League games at the venue.
A-League boss Greg O'Rourke said: "Last night's conditions were unacceptable. 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.
"Whilst FFA understands the current demands on the surface, which now sees five codes using the ground, it appears that the needs of our code around surface condition may not be able to be met, despite the best intentions of all parties."
The SCG surface has been a constant talking point after large sections were shredded during a Super Rugby match between NSW and Queensland in early March. The turf had been soft before the game following days of torrential rain.
The SCG Trust then replaced 3000 square metres of turf, resulting in what some have described as a "patchwork quilt" look. More damning though are accusations that the surface is inconsistent and uneven.
The SCG has been a high-traffic venue of late, accommodating the various football codes: AFL, A-League soccer and both rugby codes.