A SUMMER revamp of the Rodney Parade pitch costing £1million has had to be shelved because of the coronavirus crisis.

The deal to lay a new surface that will last 10 years at the home of the Dragons, Newport RFC and Newport County AFC was all set to be rubber-stamped.

The Dragons board had agreed to a new pitch, which was to be laid on sand to assist with drainage, and it needed the green light from the Welsh Rugby Union.

The costs were set to be wrapped up in a deal for the region to go back into private ownership, with chairman David Buttress still keen on taking over from the WRU despite a delay because of the pandemic.

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Contractors had been lined up to start work the Monday after the Dragons hosted Cardiff Blues on May 30 and the Exiles were going to ask the Football League if they could start 2020/21 away from home, as they did in 2017 when the current hybrid pitch was put down.

But with rugby and football suspended and uncertainty about when sport will return - the EFL have suggested a rapid conclusion this summer behind closed doors - the window of opportunity for the revamp has gone and it will now be pushed back to 2021.

South Wales Argus:

"We had agreed to install a new one because we are at the end of a three-year lifespan on the field," said Dragons managing director Mark Jones.

"When we got to Christmas we knew that we were going to struggle and that we would have to limp to the end of the season.

"Now instead of limping home for half a season we are going to have to manage it (for a whole one) because we are not sure when football or rugby will start up again, and the intention appears to be to finish the leagues and then have a small break.

"Football will probably start first and then there would be no time, or budget, for us to lay the new pitch until May 2021."

With County having 23 home league fixtures a year plus knockout competitions, the Dragons hosting 13 games and the Black and Ambers having at least 11, discussions will be held to reduce the load on the pitch.

"We are going to have to try and manage the field better and that means talking to the three entities and asking them to forget about any of the smaller fixtures," said Jones.

"If anything can be taken on the road or anything can be done to minimise the games, great because that's how we are going to get through the season."

South Wales Argus:

The suspension of the leagues has enabled the groundstaff to start preparing for what could be a mammoth season.

"There's a mini-renovation taking place," said Jones. "After the weekend of the postponed Wales versus Scotland game we got a contractor in to start seeding the pitch with a view to growing more grass but now we've gone down a different avenue and are trying to rip up as much as we can.

"If you imagine a carpet, which is effectively the system that we've got, the (plastic) fibres are above the carpet backing.

"The way the system works is that the grass grows between the backing and anchors the carpet down. At the end of this season there was very little grass cover, which meant there weren't many anchors.

"The surface was a little bit unstable and there was a build-up of silt on top of the 'carpet', so what we are trying to do now is rake out as much of the silt and the rubbish sitting above the 'carpet'.

"That's with a view to punching some holes through the 'carpet' and infilling them with sand to try and aid drainage, and then it will all be dressed and seeded.

"What we have decided to do for next year is almost imagine there is no carpet backing and treat it like a natural field, trying to punch and verti-drain as much as we can."

Getting through next season will be a struggle and a revamp will be an absolute necessity next year.