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Old Trafford to reject RWC amid pitch concerns

Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium will not be used for the Rugby World Cup amid pitch damage concerns.

Rugby World Cup 2015. Picture: IRB

LONDON - Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium is unlikely to be used as a venue for the 2015 rugby World Cup due to club concerns over potential damage to the pitch, English media reported on Wednesday.

Competition organisers had hoped to hold up to three matches at Old Trafford and are keen to keep Manchester as a host city with Manchester City's Etihad stadium, now said to be under consideration despite not being on the organisers' original list of potential venues.

The decision to withdraw Old Trafford from the shortlist of host venues is likely to have a knock-on effect on organisers' hopes of generating 100 million pounds in profits as the Etihad's capacity is around 30,000 less than Old Trafford's 76,000.

Organisers need to sell 2.9 million tickets in order to meet an 80 million pounds guarantee they made to the International Rugby Board before being awarded the tournament.

The World Cup is taking place in September and October 2015 and clashes with the group stages of soccer's Champions League.

United, who made no comment on the matter on Wednesday, are installing a new pitch in the close-season, which combines grass and artificial fibres, and rugby union with its high intensity scrums and rucks can have a damaging impact on playing surfaces.

England 2015 said they would make no comment on the reports but expected to make a final decision on a probable 12-venue list later this month having been given more time to discuss the option of using the Olympic Stadium.

The grounds were due to be presented last month but the decision was delayed as the future of the Olympic stadium remained unclear.

Premier League side West Ham United have since been confirmed as tenants and the Stratford stadium is expected to be used for the rugby World Cup.