Further to the interest that was shown during the Q&A session regarding the new pitch, I thought I'd give an insight into what work went into "magicing" up a new, state of the art pitch as a surprise for fans and in the face of the pandemic.
This was a project that has been the successful combination of a lot of work by a number of people and ultimately, the financing by our Indonesian friends and partners.
The in-house team of Aaron Argomandkhah, Liam Cash and Tim Roberts had been working with me on the possible solutions since the turn of the year.
Having secured the finance, on the 19th March I took the decision to undergo a complete refurbishment of the playing pitch at Prenton Park and on the 21st, having worked on the supply of materials, we ripped up the pitch.
At the time, the decision to go ahead with the complete refurbishment was a risk due to the fact that it was estimated that the extensive work would take 12 weeks before the pitch would be playable. As it was, we were still being told that we should prepare for a 30th April restart. In addition, we were facing the real prospect of a lockdown. We did have contingency plans in place for both deliveries of materials and for the accommodation of staff who would be carrying out the work in case it was needed.
I decided to work with John Mallinson, who is one of the top contractors in the country. He and his team have worked on New Wembley fixing the well documented pitch problems as well as Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton and many other Premier League pitches. They have been installing a new hybrid pitch. It is a stitched reinforced pitch, similar to what many teams in the Premier League currently use and, in John's opinion, of at least as good quality.
Incredibly, they have managed to complete the usual 5 week construction build in two weeks! John had agreed to do this in order to complete the project and give us a chance of playing games by June. John and his team worked miracles and extremely hard to achieve just that. I have to say that when we shook hands on the deal, I was confident that he would deliver. He is a long standing friend of the Club but also a master craftsman and does what he says. His team of guys have worked on what are recognised as the best pitches in the world and they have assured us that ours will be of the same standard. As such, I can guarantee that there has been no compromise in quality despite the compacted timescale.
Here are some of the main improvements to note from the refurbishment:
- The pitch will now have additional (double previous) primary drainage
- A complete covering with a gravel carpet base which makes it very permeable.
- We now have 24 sprinklers. ( previously 12)
- It has a quad-drop system installed which feeds the grass every time it is watered.
- New synthetic surround has a shock pad installed underneath which is better for a player’s impact when they run on it.
- When complete, it will be a hybrid stitched reinforced pitch.
We are now at a stage where the pitch would be playable by approximately the middle of May if we were to need it.
A day by day diary so far of the progress can be watched here: