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University pitches for £150k Racecourse playing surface

 01 June 2013

Glyndŵr University is proposing a new £150,000 playing surface for a world-famous football ground.

The Wrexham –based institution is to apply for funding to renovate the Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium’s playing surface.

A complete overhaul would cost up to £750,000, so the University and Welsh FA are exploring available funding streams in a bid to extensively renovate the pitch in time for the beginning of the 2014/15 season.

The work would include new and improved drainage and irrigation facilities at the landmark, the world’s oldest international football ground and home to Wrexham AFC and North Wales Crusaders rugby league team.

A report commissioned by Glyndŵr University from the Institute of Groundsmanship revealed the pitch is “well maintained” given the “volume of play” - more than 80 games a year excluding training.

The study also stated complete reconstruction “carries high risk” in terms of cost and disruption to both clubs’ playing programmes and advised renovation or an intensive end-of-season maintenance programme to provide a surface suitable for “high level and international football”.

Groundsman Paul Chaloner has been working hard in past weeks to improve the ground and is benefiting from up to £30,000 worth of new equipment.

He has been busy over-seeding, top-dressing – more than 90 tonnes of sand and soil was used to level the pitch – and verti-draining the playing field.

Paul said: “Before Glyndŵr University bought the stadium two years ago we didn’t even have a lawnmower, we had to borrow one, so we’ve come a long way since then and are looking to get more new equipment, including a roller and sprinklers, in the coming weeks.

“I know there has been frustration from some fans and the football club that the pitch is not up to scratch but we are working very hard to maintain it to a good standard for when they return for pre-season at the end of June.

“The surface gets very little chance to rest due to the amount of football and rugby matches being played on it but the overall issue is funding; hopefully we will be able to obtain grants that will allow us to make these improvements.”

Lynda Powell, Director of Campus Management and Commercial Services at Glyndŵr University, added: “We have listened to the fans and are doing our best to improve the pitch.

“We know how important the football and rugby clubs are to the town; acquiring the Racecourse ground was a positive step and shows how much we care about our community.

“However, we must also look at the financial costs of refurbishing the pitch and how it plays a part for Glyndŵr University academically. We have plans to develop the stadium further over the coming years and an improved playing surface plays a big part in that.”

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