NEWPORT County director Howard Greenhaf has defended the company charged with sorting out the Rodney Parade pitch, but admits the club won’t wait until the end of the season before they see an improvement, writes Michael Pearlman.
As revealed by the Argus in July, the £80,000 project to improve the pitch, paid for and organised by Newport County AFC (with the aid of a grant) wasn’t completed in time and will be finished at the end of the campaign.
The surface was ripped up in the summer for the first time since 1875 by Phil Day Sports, a Midlands-based company who won the tender to do the work and whose clients include Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.
As we reported in the summer, the plan was to install improved drainage along with a Dragons-funded £40,000 irrigation scheme. The latter was completed but contractors ran out of time to complete the former due to the state of the grass at the northern end of the ground.
The main drainage channels running the length of the pitch are in place but the sand and gravel slits that run across the pitch and tie the whole system together are only in place from the changing rooms end up to halfway. That leaves the northern end of the pitch – traditionally the most troublesome end – still at risk of flooding with only around 75% of the gravel slits installed according to Greenhaf.
The director, a builder himself, believes everything that can be done to improve the situation is being done, with the contractors at the ground yesterday to put in some more temporary drainage.
“Firstly, there is no issue our end with the contractors because the job not being completed was for a combination of reasons including the schedule we agreed with the rugby clubs,” he said.
“We’ve asked them to come back now to try and help ease the current situation and as soon as the weather turns, if we get a frost or whatever, they will be able to add more of the gravel slits in which will help.
“We have told them we can’t wait until the summer to have the job improved and if possible completed and as soon as the rain eases there will be more work done.
“But this notion that they just did half the pitch and then we all decided we couldn’t be bothered to do more, it’s a total nonsense!
“The fact is the company couldn’t do more because of how things were at the time. We couldn’t put more gravel slits in because the ground disintegrated at the north end. It couldn’t take it. It’s such a complicated undertaking, but obviously the current situation is not ideal for us.”