England's Ground For Optimism In Donetsk
Tue 19th Jun 2012 | Football Stadiums & Facilities
Expectations are high for the England team to perform well tonight on the Donetsk pitch from the stadia services team at STRI following last Friday’s waves of water that rolled across the turf.
The Ukraine v France match played last Friday in Donetsk was delayed for 55 minutes after torrential rain poured onto the pitch creating a large volume of water on the surface within a short space of time.
As UEFA and match officials debated whether the match could continue, one person at the Donbass Arena who knows the pitch very well was confident that the match would resume with a little help from the latest technology hiding under the pitch.
Andy Cole, head of stadia services at SRTI, commented: “We plan for most eventualities on a pitch and understand how weather can affect the turf, but none of us were expecting such a monumental amount of rain in such a short space of time on Friday.
“I had no doubt we could manage the situation as an ISASS (vacuum) system is installed underneath the pitch at Donetsk alongside extensive drainage systems. This is a new technology which allows us to control pitch temperatures and moisture levels across the pitch. Excessive water can be quickly drawn downwards, away from the surface, using this system. All we needed to do was use forks and an aerator to allow the water to begin to drain downwards and switch on the ISASS system.”
Within a few minutes the surface water had been removed and UEFA and the referee agreed the pitch was in good enough condition for the game to be resumed. Since Friday, Andy and the grounds team at Donetsk have received praise across the industry, including a personal thank you from Michel Platini on how they averted a potential crisis.
There has been a lot of work since Friday to prepare the pitch for the match tonight, as Andy explained: “We knew after experiencing the extreme conditions last Friday that the team would have to work around the clock to get the turf back to tournament standards for the England v Ukraine game tonight and we are pleased to report the pitch is performing very well”.
England returned to Donetsk yesterday and following an inspection of the playing surface Roy Hodgson praised the work undertaken on the pitch, adding: “The conditions are OK, and the grounds men have done remarkably well following what happened the other night."
So all that remains to be seen, is if England can provide their fans with a spectacular performance to rival the pitch’s amazing turnaround within just four days.
Posted by: Aaron Gourley
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