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PITCH: New surface the best course of action

5 January 2016

Work on playing surface commences at Brunton Park

Work on the flood-damaged Brunton Park pitch started this afternoon with 15 to 20mm of the existing surface set to be removed ahead of a complete replacement of the turf, due to start at the beginning of next week.

Industry specialists Talbot Sports Turf Installation, who have worked previously at Twickenham, Murrayfield, the Olympic Stadium and with a host of professional football clubs, will carry out the work, with equipment due to arrive on-site over the course of the next two days.

The cost of the pitch replacement process is expected to be between £150,000 and £155,000, with further remedial work to be carried out in the summer ahead of the start of the 2016/17 season.

Speaking about the first phase, the removal of the existing playing surface, stadium manager Dave Mitchell said: “If it all goes to plan we should finish the removal of the top layer by close of play on the first day [Wed 6 Jan].

“We will then look to get all of the remaining debris and vegetation out of what’s left behind as part of the preparations for the relaying of the turf, which we will look to start on Monday next week. That preparation includes a procedure called power harrowing and making sure it’s as level and as smooth as it can be.

“Each row of turf gets a final prep as it’s put down, with a final roll and spread of fertiliser to make sure the new surface will have a good foundation to sit on.”

“In terms of getting the turf down, it’s been done before in a five-day timescale, but that was with good weather conditions,” he explained. “Our target at the moment is to have completed the relay by Friday 15 January. I think we’ll all be very pleased if that is the case. 

“Having said that, I’m very confident that the pitch will be playable by the time we get to the York home fixture date. Hopefully it will all go to plan and everything else will fall into place to allow us to get that game played here.” 

“The weather has to be taken into consideration through all of this,” he said. “If it turns against us then we will have to suspend works, and that obviously has the knock-on effect of pushing the completion dates back. 

“As I say, if all goes well the line marking and cutting of the new grass should be under way the week beginning Monday 18 January. The company we purchase the paint from – Fleet Line Markers Ltd – have offered to come and do a laser mark-up of the pitch lines free of charge. That’s a fantastic offer and it will be a big help to us.

“Overall what this process will do is give us 100% grass coverage in January. That is extremely unusual for a professional sports club. Bear in mind PSD Agronomy, the experts we employ to guide us and who helped us to assess things after the flood, advised us that the grass coverage was pretty much where it should be at this time of year, even after the flood waters had been on it. However, the volume of water meant that other damage had been caused and it was agreed all-round that this was the best course of action for us to take.”

+++++++

Key findings from the post-flood study conducted by PSD Agronomy:

+ There was significant silt deposit over the entire playing area, increasing in thickness towards the Waterworks End.

+ The silt deposit had caused severely reduced surface infiltration and had effectively sealed the surface, hampering natural drainage.

+ Surface traction was assessed as being a major issue, again due to the silt deposit. Walking across the surface caused substantial loss of grass and severe blackening, due to the grass being pushed into the silt layer. 

+ In terms of action, regardless of potential contamination causing a health risk, it was felt that a relay was the only option available as removal of the silt would also lead to removal of the remaining grass coverage.

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