Club call in experts to win pitch battle

Blackpool v Hull City.
Blackpool v Hull City.
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BLACKPOOL are seeking expert help in their bid to resolve problems with the playing surface at Bloomfield Road.

The pitch was described as “impossible to play on” by manager Michael Appleton after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Hull City, whose boss Steve Bruce labelled it “an absolute quagmire”.

Chairman Karl Oyston met with Appleton and club secretary Matt Williams to discuss the issue after the game, when it was agreed to consult leading specialists.

Williams told The Gazette: “The pitch is a concern for everyone at the club, not just the manager and players.

“The manager, the chairman and myself met after Tuesday’s game to discuss the January transfer window and a number of other issues, including the pitch.

“On Wednesday morning we put in a number of calls to industry experts and we are awaiting on their reports.

“We are looking into a number of options, including the possible returfing of the pitch.”

Having been drawn away (to Fulham) in the FA Cup this weekend, the Seasiders aren’t due to play at Bloomfield Road again until the visit of Championship leaders Cardiff on January 19.

That means there is plenty of time to returf, if the club is certain such action would be worthwhile.

Williams added: “We are aware of the problems and great expense Birmingham encountered in 2007, when they returfed St Andrews during awful weather and it turned into a mudbath.

“They were trying to lay the pitch, but the water wouldn’t go anywhere and it left them with a worse surface than they had previously.”

Following the meeting, Williams was tasked with consulting experts about the best steps to take.

He added: “We’ve taken a lot of advice. We’ve made contact with a number of people, including the Sports Turf Research Institute, who are the world’s leading consultancy firm in sports turfing.

“We have spoken to both the Football League and the Premier League for advice about who we should speak to.

“We’ve also discussed the option of relaying the pitch with Wigan and Birmingham, who both had theirs relaid in recent seasons and are aware of the issues and expense involved.

“We had experts come in on Wednesday. Once we have all the advice, reports and information, it will be down to the chairman and manager to decide on the best long and short term.”