0 Rovers' Ewood Park pitch improvement plan and home friendly prospect

Improvement works to the Ewood Park surface and at Rovers' training base are set to get under way at a six-figure expense.

The club are set to spend around £500,000 and hope the three month break from action will be the necessary time to bring about a long-term upgrade.

However, plans for a new 'stitch pitch', outlined by chief executive Steve Waggott earlier this year, won't take place this summer, but the club expect the 12-week break from action will enable a full renovation to take place and bring about the necessary improvements.

Rovers are expected to have one home friendly to bed the surface in before the August start for the 2021/22 campaign. That is a contrast to the start to last season which saw just four weeks between the final match of the 2019/20, after Project Restart, and the start of the new campaign.

That lack of preparation time, coupled with a heavy frost that saw the need for the first-team to train at Ewood with use of the undersoil heating, and heavy rainfall, saw the pitch deteriorate quickly in early 2021.

Rovers were also forced to postpone their fixture with Swansea City in February because of a waterlogged pitch, the first for that reason since the Boxing Day game against Middlesbrough in 2015.

Head Groundsman Trevor Wilkin said the Ewood surface, which last underwent full scale works in the early 1990s, is 'ready to go to the next level' but the cost of that would be extensive.

Tony Mowbray had been critical of the pitch at the club's headquarters, however, there was noticeable improvement for the final matches of the 2020/21 season, as Wilkin predicted, with no home match between March 17 and April 5.

The manager first criticised the pitch after the home win against Rotherham United in December, and said after the 1-1 draw with Stoke City a month later he had aired concerns with the club's chief executive, but accepted improvements would come 'at a huge expense'.

Work to two of the pitches at the Senior Training Centre were dug up last week, with two others set to undergo renovation works, alongside those at Ewood.

"The pitch will be getting dug up, the training ground pitches two have already been dug up, and the other two will, so the club has to move forward, but they'll have a period now to get themselves ready and that's what happens in a close season," Mowbray said.

Speaking after a third straight home win, and having scored five for the second Ewood match in a row, Mowbray added: "The pitch has been better than it has been through the winter, and we can now play with more fluency."

Rovers' pre-season plans have already been pencilled in and that is thought to include one game at Ewood.

It would be the first home friendly the club have staged since 2018, when Liverpool and Everton were visitors to East Lancashire, with games last summer at Fleetwood Town, Blackpool and Leicester City.

Twelve months earlier, Rovers took in games at Barrow, Mansfield, Rangers, Bury and Blackpool, with a scheduled game against Rochdale postponed.

You can read the original article from the Lancashire Telegraph HERE

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