Newcastle United’s stadium manager, Eddie Rutherford, has hailed the new SIS Grass pitch at St James’ Park, installed by MJ Abbott and Premier Pitches, as the best in his 16-years at the club.
St James’ Park sits in the centre of Newcastle as a monument to football, with progress being made under Rafael Benitez after bouncing back from The Championship at the first time of asking in 2016/17.
Results on the new pitch have been promising through to the end of October, seeing three wins, a draw and one loss, but the decision to install a new irrigation system and playing surface was taken at short notice and required swift planning and cohesive team work between MJ Abbott and Premier Pitches, with the result delighting Eddie and the club.
“We are extremely happy with the pitch, it’s played really well,” Eddie said. “It’s probably the best the pitch has been since I’ve been here, and I know it hasn’t gone through the winter period yet but at the same stage in the last 15-years it hasn’t been any better.
“We did the job at very short notice. We decided to put the SIS Grass pitch in with only four weeks’ notice, so considering the time they had to get everything organised and put in place I couldn’t fault them.
“My only worry was that when you put two companies together, will they work well together. But they were both spot on throughout the project. When one is getting towards the end the other needs to be ready and mobilised and that worked really well, it couldn’t have worked any better.
“MJ Abbott come as a partnership with Premier Pitches when installing SIS Grass pitches. Premier Pitches have done a lot of work in the past with us and do our end of season renovations, but I know MJ Abbott are good contractor so I was quite happy to work with the two combined."
Nathan George, Contracts Manager at MJ Abbott explained "The project comprised removing the existing fibre sand surface down to a suitable depth as to expose the existing drainage slits. This operation had to be very carefully completed as to not destroy the integrity of the retained drainage.”
“A new fully automatic pitch irrigation system was installed and an imported rootzone laid to re-establish the original pitch levels. Premier Pitches completed the preparation and seeding of the new pitch, which delivered the project a week ahead of the proposed programme"
"The SISGRASS stitching was installed following grass establishment, a process that took 7 days"
The quick planning required for the project was helped by Premier Pitches’ experience at the city centre venue, and director, Russell Latham, commended the work of the design team in the build-up to the start date.
“The design team needs to work well together from the outset, especially on this project because of the time scale, but more importantly the men on the ground need to work in harmony from start to finish.
“Newcastle United have been a long-standing client of Premier Pitches so the pitfalls of working at a city centre Premier League stadium were well known. Nevertheless, without the rigorous planning and logistics from the outset things still could have gone wrong.
“The logistics of plant deliveries, material removal and material deliveries all had to be scheduled to the second to ensure that the project ran smoothly.
“We have worked with MJ Abbott on our prestigious pitch construction projects for over five years now. Their efficient and meticulous way of approaching a product from design and planning to delivery is everything that our key clients want to see but it doesn’t stop there. The back-up and support and knowledge is second to none.”
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