We are delighted to announce that the Dale Trust have purchased a set of pitch covers that will offer added protection to the Spotland pitch.
The covers that have been purchased are “double skin covers” and will protect the pitch against frost. They have cost the Trust £5,450. The club already has a set of covers of this type, and this will add further protection to the Spotland pitch and ensure that the whole of the pitch can now be covered. The covers come from a respected manufacturer, and have been inspected at other clubs who vouch for their suitability.
When the recent Gillingham game was postponed, the areas protected by the double skin covers were considered playable by the referee, but these new pitch covers will protect those areas that led to that particular game’s postponement.
Dale Groundsman James Blackburn said: “These new covers offer excellent value for money, and are used at a number of grounds around the country. During winter, the third of the pitch nearest to the Main Stand never gets any sun. Our existing double skin covers have made a real difference to the pitch, but they only cover around 10m of the pitch nearest to the Main Stand.
This further purchase will allow us to cover two covers (both of which are 17.5m x 50m) which will fully address that aforementioned third of the pitch. The recent Gillingham postponement was caused because the areas of the pitch not currently covered by the double skinned covers were unplayable. This purchase would have ensured that game would have gone ahead.”
We discussed the possibility of purchasing sufficient covers of this type to cover the entire Spotland pitch, but James felt this would be an unnecessary purchase. The area of the pitch that have access to the Sun can be adequately protected by the existing single skinned covers which can now be moved over to that area following this purchase.
We enquired about the possible further purchase of a set of rain covers for the Spotland pitch, but James was adamant that he does not want rain covers. The pitch currently drains well following the work over the past few years (over £100,000 has been spent on it in the past two summers) with further work planned for this Summer. Another reason that he does not want rain covers is that they prevent sunlight/air getting to the pitch. Given that the pitch has had to be covered for much of the past 6 weeks, the damage that covering it (even with frost covers which “breath”) is evident just by looking at it now compared to in December.
Originally, the money was raised during the 2009-10 season with a view to supporters making a donation towards the Bowlee training ground project. However, it soon became clear that such a project was no longer suitable, and following a vote of Trust members, it was decided to switch the project to pitch covers. That vote, saw 96% approve the decision to switch where the funds went.
Since then, it has been a long, drawn out process in which a number of manufacturers have been approached with a view to an all singing, all dancing set of pitch covers. Finally during the 2012-13 season, the club received a set of pitch covers on a trial basis. Unfortunately, and much to their frustration, the Trust were unable to announce this due to the manufacturer not wanting it in the public domain that a new product was being tested.
Following extensive testing, it was decided that the product that was being tested did not meet the needs of the Football Club, and as such the decision was made to purchase the set of pitch covers that we have done. The good news is that not a single penny was wasted whilst the trial took place, and has been ring fenced in a high interest account ever since. There are existing inflatable products on the market which would do this job, but the costs involved are massively beyond our budget.
The Trust are very conscious that these covers cost substantially less than the £30,000 that was raised by Dale supporters and as such a meeting will be held with Trust members in the next few weeks to decide what to do with the rest of the money. We hope to announce the date of that meeting in the next few days. As with any major Trust project, this money will not be touched without the support of the members, and any Trust members with an opinion as to what to do with the remaining funds, should contact the Trust.
Dale Chief Executive Colin Garlick would like to thank all the supporters who have helped in whatever way with the fundraising and subsequent purchase of the pitch covers.