Pompey still plagued by pitch problems

Fratton Park’s awful playing surface is set to once again undergo essential repairs this summer.

Similarly, newly-laid pitches at the training ground afflicted with the same drainage problem will also be rectified.

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin has called the state of Pompey's recently-relaid pitch as 'not acceptable'

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin has called the state of Pompey's recently-relaid pitch as 'not acceptable'

Chief executive Mark Catlin has revealed the contractors behind the controversial surfaces are in talks to step in.

Last summer work was carried out at Fratton and the Blues’ new Copnor Road training base to raise the quality of existing pitches.

Drainage, in particular, has been a long-standing complaint at Pompey’s home ground.

The problems have failed to be resolved, however, and for Burton’s visit on Saturday large areas of the pitch were muddy and difficult to play on.

It is now hoped the contractors will return at the end of the season and put in a secondary drainage system involving sand strips.

But Pompey have declined to comment on who would be liable for the cost of additional work.

‘As a club we are not happy with the state of the Fratton Park pitch and are speaking almost on a daily basis with the company who carried out the work,’ said Catlin.

‘Last summer the pitch was completely taken up and relaid, with all-new sub-drainage put in.

‘During the process we consulted one of the most respected pitch experts in the business on the work required – a company used by many of the top clubs up and down the country. But despite that,

as anyone can see, the pitch

is not acceptable. It is not right.

‘The training pitches are pretty good to be fair, when they are playable they are in a good condition.

‘But they are also not draining as perhaps we would like.

‘We are in ongoing dialogue with the contractors.

‘Obviously, you cannot get grass to grow sufficiently during the winter, so we are expecting the situation to be put right in the summer.

‘They will be carrying out a process called sand banding, involving strips of sand being applied below the surface of the pitch.

‘It means rather than water settling on top of the surface, it drops through the sand to get through the drainage system below.

‘The pitches do not have to be completely dug up or relaid.

‘It is a case of scarifying an inch or two off the top, introducing the secondary drainage system and then reseeding.’

Pompey are not alone in suffering first-year problems with a newly-laid pitch.

Newport County encountered the same issues last season, prompting the introduction of the sand banding system.

Catlin added: ‘In the summer of 2013, Newport carried out the same work.

‘Their pitch was terrible last season but they installed this drainage system and now the pitch is playing well.’