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Get ready for summer with Otterbine

Get ready for summer with Otterbine: With the sun can come dangers for your lakes and ponds and as we know the warm weather arrived early last year with April the sunniest on record. As a result, water management specialist Otterbine is advising greenkeepers to be prepared and take action now to avoid problems and costly fixes later.

Left unattended for long periods of time water can quickly deteriorate, leaving lakes and ponds with problems such as algae, aquatic weeds and odours meaning the importance of water management can’t be underestimated.

Get ready for summer with Otterbine

Get ready for summer with Otterbine

Peter Newton, commercial and golf irrigation sales representative at Reesink explains: “It’s vital to take care of your water now so you’re not faced with a sudden onslaught of problems once the weather gets warmer. Higher levels of sunlight and heat, generated by summer sun, can lead to excess nutrients in water bodies. When combined with low oxygen levels and limited circulation, the natural ecosystem tips out of balance, which is what can cause algae, weeds, odours and sludge build up, which can even kill off aquatic life.

“Once a water body reaches this point the costs of trying to restore it increase dramatically. As well as often being more expensive to implement, reactive solutions tend to be less friendly to the environment too.”

With Otterbine aerating fountains, industrial aerators and diffused air systems and their proven high oxygen transfer rates, there’s a simple and natural solution to prevent water quality deteriorating.

“The most natural water quality management solution is to introduce aeration to eliminate stagnant water,” says Peter. “This will increase oxygen levels, and circulate oxygen rich water throughout the lake, pond or water reservoir to keep the water clean, clear and healthy.”

And with Otterbine’s comprehensive warranties ranging from three to five years on its range of products including the Giant Fountain, Fractional Series, Air Flo 3 and Fountain Glo Lights, you can rest assured that not only will your water body stay in good shape, but your fountain or aerator will be looked after too.

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SALTEX 2021: “We’re ready to go!”

SALTEX 2021: “We’re ready to go!”: After the government’s recent announcement, it appears that the grounds management industry can finally start looking forward to celebrating SALTEX’s 75th anniversary, which takes place on 3 and 4 November at the NEC, Birmingham.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown, and it is good news for the grounds management industry’s premier show. Most restrictions on events taking place could be lifted by 21 June and some may even be permitted to go ahead with restricted capacities from 17 May.

SALTEX 2021: “We’re ready to go!”

SALTEX 2021: “We’re ready to go!”

“We are very excited about the outlook for the show in November,” said GMA CEO Geoff Webb. “As Boris said, there is indeed light ahead, and with many suffering from ‘Zoom’ and online fatigue, there is more than ever, a real appetite for human interaction.”

The Prime Minister’s announcement certainly seems to have raised spirits in the industry. Since the roadmap was revealed the GMA has reported an influx of new business and enquiries from companies eager to have a presence at SALTEX and several stand upgrades from existing exhibitors.

“It is very encouraging and we’re ready to go,” continued Geoff. “The support from the industry has been overwhelming and I’d like to thank our exhibitors for their patience and for sticking by us as we transferred from 2020 to 2021.

“We are an industry which loathes to stand still, and I think the restrictions have shown that we are missing meeting people; that businesses are keen to see their customers in person again and that they are missing that trade and general conversation. Ultimately, it has amplified the power and the benefits of live events.

“There could be more twists and turns to come and we will remain diligent and prepared. The safety of everyone attending is our main priority, so we will continue to follow the guidance and implement the necessary procedures, if needed in November.”

Spirits are also riding high after the hugely successful #GroundsWeek united every corner of the grounds management industry. The GMA’s campaign was the first-ever celebratory week which highlighted the vital role of grounds staff, volunteers, and the role that the broader turf-care sector plays in making sport possible and keeping green spaces accessible. The #GroundsWeek campaign saw a veritable social media blitz for seven days straight as manufacturers, workers, media and high-profile sports clubs, stadia and sports persons publicly showed their support for the initiative.

The positivity is set to continue over the coming months, as the SALTEX team announces more details about what is in store for the 75th anniversary. From exhibitors, products, speakers, demonstrations, the Innovation of the Year Award, new features, prizes and much, much more.

“We’re putting absolutely everything into the show, and we can’t wait to celebrate this landmark occasion with you all.

“I am sure that SALTEX 2021 will show us at our finest. SALTEX promises to showcase the talent in our industry and the changes and the new directions that we can anticipate,” concluded Geoff.

For more information visit www.gmasaltex.co.uk

To view further industry support and quotes visit – https://www.gmasaltex.co.uk/industry-shows-support-quotes-for-new-saltex-dates/

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Ventana LLC ready to elevate brands

Ventana LLC ready to elevate brands: Leading Middle Eastern golf cart and machinery dealer, Ventana LLC, are ready to elevate the E-Z-GO, Jacobsen and Cushman brands after announcing a new partnership with Textron Specialized Vehicles.

The company has already impressed Textron following their work with the Ransomes portfolio, making them the leading candidates to drive these three industry leading brands forward in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Ventana LLC ready to elevate brands

Ventana LLC ready to elevate brands

Ventana LLC is a subsidiary of Tanseeq Investment Group of companies – one of the largest golf and landscape-based groups in the Middle East, with headquarters in Dubai, UAE. The group recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, and with the successful construction of three major golf courses, it has established itself as a formidable player in the golf and landscape business. Ventana is the group’s trading arm, offering a wide range of golf and landscape products, including golf carts, turf machinery, irrigation, battery, chemical, and other related products.

Textron International Key Accounts Manager EMEA, LATAM, Andre Andrade, has worked with Ventana LLC on the Ransomes account and is confident they will successfully grow the brands.

“We are extremely proud to have a strong company like Ventana LLC as a distributor to our brands in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” he began. “E-Z-GO, Cushman, Jacobsen and Ransomes are powerful market leading brands, and they are the right partner to support our efforts.

“The Middle East is an extremely important market for us, and we are making strategic changes that will continue to position ourselves as market leaders in the region. We’ve had an outstanding experience with Ventana LLC working on the Ransomes brand, and I’m excited to see that work extended into E-Z-GO and the turf machinery products.”

Ventana’s success in the Middle East is built on the ability to offer all-encompassing machinery and utility solutions to its customers. For Ventana’s General Manager, Riyad Mustafa, this partnership will allow the company to continue its customer focused approach.

“We are excited to announce our new partnership with the Textron group in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. As an existing distributor of the Ransomes brand, Ventana LLC is delighted with the addition of the E-Z-GO, Jacobsen and Cushman brands to our portfolio. This is a testament to the success of our business and our commitment to a long-term business strategy in the region.”

“Under the wise leadership of our group chairman Mr Ahmad Al Anoohi and group CEO Mr Naser Ahmed, Ventana LLC continues to expand our customer focused business in the region; this partnership enables us to strengthen our ability to offer comprehensive product solutions and customer support to clients.”

For more information on the products please visit www.ventanallc.com

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PM36 serves up competition-ready courts

PM36 serves up competition-ready courts: As a sole Groundsman, Robin Wilcox has his work cut out looking after the 19 courts and 5 croquet lawns that make up East Dorset Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (EDLTCC).

On the sites nine grass courts, DLF’s ProMaster 36, and its tolerance of low cutting heights, has given Robin the advantage – freeing up time for the other tasks which keep the courts and lawns competition ready.

PM36 serves up competition-ready courts

PM36 serves up competition-ready courts

One of Robin’s key goals when he joined EDLTCC two years ago was to bring the grass courts up to standard required to be selected, once again, as a host for the qualifying stages of The County Cup. “Over the years the courts had accumulated layers of thatch, so we could have gone down the road of scarifying and adding additional loam, but we decided to go for a full renovation.” During his first year at the club, Robin skimmed off the top layer, cultivated, levelled and seeded with Masterline PM36 perennial ryegrass mix.

“A great combination of warmth and rain in the late summer/early autumn of 2018 meant the courts were green in under three weeks and I carried out the first cut at six weeks – everybody at the club was amazed at the germination. Our artificial and clay courts took the strain while the grass courts were under renovation but when they re-opened for play in 2019, there was a new wave of members wanting to play on the grass and they coped, and recovered, from the high levels of wear very well.”

The decision to go for a pure-rye mix gives Robin the playing and resistance characteristics he requires, even under close mown conditions. “Because of my workload, I have to split my time between the artificial courts, grass courts and lawns so this means I am limited to mowing just twice a week. With the PM36 mix, it is hardy enough to cope with going as low as 5mm without any detrimental impact on turf quality.”

While a final decision by the LTA is expected at the end of May, at the time of writing the County Cup remains in the tournament calendar and the improvements Robin has achieved sees EDLTCC chosen as a host venue, after a few years absence. “It’s fantastic news for the club.” Robin concludes, “Everybody is delighted with the results of the renovations – the PM36 has delivered great quality courts fit for top level play once again.”

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New Court Almost Ready

New Court Almost Ready: Often called the world’s best tennis tournament, Wimbledon will be unveiling a new Court No.1 this year and the preparations are in their final stages.

The famously skilled groundsmen at the All England Lawn Tennis Club have tweeted pictures of the lines being painted onto court No.1 with the brand new roof also on show.

New Court Almost Ready

2019 will be the first year ever that there have been two courts with retractable roofs allowing for play even when it’s raining or the light has become too bad for outdoor tennis.

Wimbledon starts on July 1st this year and it was always going to be tight schedule to build the new roof between the time the 2018 Championships finished and the 2019 Championships began. But the roof has been finished and now the club are preparing to test the court with a practise event probably for chosen lucky members of the AELTC.

The court now has an increased seating capacity and will allow the Wimbledon organisers the luxury of playing on two courts instead of just one if the weather makes it unplayable on the outside courts.

Wimbledon have always been clear that the tournament continues to be an outdoor event and that the roofs are only used when vital to allow them to keep to their schedule. This new roof also means that fans with tickets on Court 1 and Centre Court are virtually guaranteed of seeing a full days tennis.

Wimbledon is having to invest huge amounts of money to keep up with the other Grand Slam events as they all build or plan to build roofs over their show courts. The Australian Open will soon have 3 courts with roofs, the US Open has recently added a roof to the main Arthur Ashe stadium court and the French Open now has plans to build at least 1 roof over a show court.

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Groundsman Industries Ready For SALTEX

Groundsman Industries Ready For SALTEX: Groundsman Industries have lined up three products from their range that are more than worthy of special attention at the Saltex exhibition. The Northern Ireland manufacturer has a worldwide reputation for durable, high performance equipment and the latest machines affirm this. The Groundsman Turf Multi-Cutters are renowned for their smooth, effortless cutting ability, ease of use and operating comfort. Features and benefits which become obvious within the first few feet of operation.

The two-wheel drive model, the TMC26, is simple to operate and portable, making it ideal for landscapers, contractors and hire outlets, with the cut quality to work in fine sports turf as well. There’s a range of interchangeable sod cutting blades available from 30cm (12”) to 60cm (24”) wide that are adjustable down to 7cm (3”) deep. These are complemented with blades for mole draining, de-compacting, trenching and cable and pipe insertion, down to 15cm (6”) depth. The precision cutting of the rear blade four-wheel drive model, the TMC46, makes it the choice of golf clubs and turf farms.

Groundsman Industries Ready For SALTEX

Groundsman offer a range of pedestrian and tractor mounting turf aerators ranging from 45cm (18”) to 180cm (6ft) working widths. Take the 345HD model and you have a compact, professional pedestrian machine that can access most garden gates and aerate all types of grass including gardens, parklands and fine lawns as well as sports greens. For larger areas the tractor mounting models are available for tractors from 18hp. Rugged, durable and low maintenance, this range has a proven record for reliability, performance and versatility. There is a crank driven elliptical plunge action mechanism that drives the tines into the most compacted surfaces, down to 15cm (6”) deep, with very little surface disruption. Quick change hollow core, solid and slitting tines are available together with tine heads for thatch removal or surface preparation for overseeding.

Also on display at Saltex, the Groundsman Flexblade Core Collector attaches to any aerator, pedestrian or tractor mounted with swath width from 60cm (24”) up to 210cm (83”) to enable you to core and collect in one pass. It’s also available for compact tractors and turf vehicles for follow-up collection of cores and linear aeration soil. The patented Flexblade core collector system was developed by Groundsman Industries and is the most efficient method of collecting cores, wet or dry, with minimum disruption. Attached to an aerator the Flexblade catches more than half the cores before they touch the ground. The remainder are scooped cleanly from the surface by the Flexblade that follows undulations like shovels, for the cleanest possible collection. The holes remain open for top dressing. Trampling and surface disruption are minimised and the greens are quicker back in play. Visit Groundsman Industries at Saltex on Stand No. K078

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Get Ready

Get Ready: The Ryder Cup is looming. Turf Matters pitches some questions to key people in the run up to the big event.

ALEJANDRO REYES
Golf Courses and Estate Manager, Le Golf National

What is the biggest compliment you have had about the venue?

I don’t know if it is the biggest compliment, but I remember one during the 2014 French Open. Sky Sports were talking about long putting on the first green, and the commentator said, “these greens are as pure as they can be.” I saw this and took a video of it with my mobile phone, which I still have to this day. I was very proud of that comment!

What will be the most rewarding thing for you regarding hosting the Ryder Cup?

I’m looking forward to Sunday afternoon of the Ryder Cup, once the last putt has been made. Everyone will be happy with the set-up and hopefully we will have a good week. The main thing is that our staff, the organisation and the players are all happy and proud of the job that we have done – that will be the most rewarding thing.

Get Ready

How do you cope with the pressures of hosting such a prestigious event?

At this point in time, I don’t have too much pressure. As I always say, I sleep very well; I don’t get under pressure easily. Any pressure I do have is usually not to do with the tournament, so I just try to enjoy every moment here with the team.

What helped you make the decision to pick Jacobsen over the other big names?

Service, tournament support and the security that we already had with Jacobsen. This course was Jacobsen since 2011, and when we were doing the bidding process for the Ryder Cup in 2015, security and trust were the biggest factors. We receive fantastic tournament support from Jacobsen every year for the French Open, and that’s what we wanted for the Ryder Cup. We were just delighted with the quality of the mowers, and we trust in them to produce top quality surfaces. For us, it was an easy choice.

What is your favourite Jacobsen machine and why?

My personal favourite is the Eclipse 2 greens mower, the 122 model (pictured left). We use 15-blade cutting units, and I really like the groomer attachment. We are also able to easily adjust the frequency of cut with just one button, and the reliability is fantastic- great mower.

I am also a big fan of the Jacobsen fairway mowers. We are going to have the new SLF530 super lightweight fairway mowers for the Ryder Cup; I am impressed with what I have seen so far and the team is looking forward to mowing with them this summer.

What has been your career’s biggest challenge before you came to Le Golf National?

Without a doubt, it was when I was 25 years old. I got my first golf course superintendent position at a Jack Nicklaus signature course in the south of Spain. I had a lot of education and experience, but it was a huge challenge. It’s hard when you are so young and you have to make your own decisions for the first time, that was a lot of pressure! Managing a team for the first time was difficult as well, it’s very easy to make mistakes when you lack experience of management, but it was a great learning curve and it made me a better person for it.

Are you keeping the blanket cut or going back to the diamond cut on the fairways for the Ryder Cup?

We are going to cut the fairways all one way.

It will probably be tee to green.

PAUL ARMITAGE
General Manager, Le Golf National

What brought you to Le Golf National and how long have you been here?

I got the job at Le Golf National in May 2014, and started in September 2014. When I saw this job come up, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by, so I decided to apply for it; it’s the kind of job that comes up once in a blue moon. I’ve been working in France for more than 20 years now, mainly in the golf industry. This role seemed like a natural career progression, and the prospect of being involved in hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup, and the Olympic golf competition in 2024 is very exciting.

Biggest challenge you’ve faced during your time here and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was to change the culture and the mindset of the club. Le Golf National is 25 years old now, and there were a lot of habits and routines to shake up when I arrived. I wanted to focus the staff on the fact that we are a Ryder Cup destination, the fact that our customers expect high standards and the fact that we have one of the best golf courses in the world. I needed them to realise that we had to achieve those high standards every single day.

What does it mean to Le Golf National and to France to be hosting the Ryder Cup this year?

For Le Golf National, it’s an honour and a privilege to be hosting the Ryder Cup. However, without the tenacity of the French Golf Federation throughout the bidding process and all the way now, we couldn’t do it alone, so all credit must go to them. For the country, it is a huge deal. Pascal Grizot, who is the president of the France 2018 Ryder Cup committee did a fantastic job of accomplishing his vision of bringing the Ryder Cup to France and gaining support from the government as well as local support. Pascal made it into a nationwide bid. You can feel the excitement in the media around the event. With the announcement of Tiger Woods as the US team vice-captain, there’s an even bigger buzz, and the enormity of the event really hits home. It’s very exciting, and a huge honour to be involved.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to anyone wanting to become a General Manager at a golf club?

You must love people. It’s not enough to be a passionate golfer, you must have the customer service skills and the ideas and drive to grow the business. It’s important to communicate well with staff, and to motivate them, and it also helps to take time out to speak with customers and ask if they’ve enjoyed their experience.

How does your relationship with Jacobsen benefit the club? What is your attitude when it comes to turf maintenance equipment?

We have a very long and happy relationship with Jacobsen; we have used the brand at Le Golf National for a very long time. To be able to keep the agreement in place, and develop it even more, throughout the Ryder Cup is a huge bonus for us. The golf course is the most important thing, and if you look at some of the remarks on social networks, the standard of the greens, tees and fairways comes out on top, and is commended time and time again. Without the correct resources, we can’t do that. The turf maintenance equipment is key, and we are very happy with the Jacobsen kit, and so are the greenkeeping team we have here.

Can you describe a typical day for a General Manager?

No. Every day is different. That’s what makes it so much fun. At Le Golf National, we have three different courses, which offer a diverse offering to our customers. In turn, there is a lot of variety and different aspects to my job. With the Ryder Cup, the 2024 Olympic Games, the French Open, Paris Legends, and other events like that, it adds another dimension, so no two days are the same!

What do you do when you’re not working?

I love eating, sleeping, drinking red wine, spending time with my family, and cooking!

What’s your favourite Ryder Cup moment?

The miracle at Medina. I got to the golf course early on Sunday morning, slightly depressed about the scores and the task Europe faced. However, there was something about the golf course that morning – it was chilly, windy, and there was nobody there. There weren’t many Americans there, and everybody was supporting Europe. To experience that day at Medina and see that European team turn things around and win the Ryder Cup was amazing.

SIS Pitches Ready In Russia

SIS Pitches Ready In Russia: Three new football stadiums in Russia – the Samara Arena, Kaliningrad Stadium and Saransk Stadium – are now set for their World Cup kick-offs, having gone through the installation of new high-tech hybrid pitches.

Global pitch specialists, SIS Pitches, the company behind six of the 12 World Cup pitches, was commissioned to design, construct and install the new surfaces at the football venues – which are set to host international football teams including England, Portugal and Belgium during this year’s tournament.

SIS Pitches Ready In Russia

This year’s international football event will be the most technologically advanced in history, with SIS Pitches leading the way with the industry’s most advanced playing surfaces. Its sophisticated reinforced natural turf system, SISGrass, combines 95% natural grass with 5% synthetic turf; installed with patented injection technology and laser guidance for accuracy; offering longer playing hours and faster recovery time after each game.

SIS Pitches has now formally handed over the pitches to each stadium’s management team, who will handle their maintenance from now on, following thorough inspections by independent agency the Sports Turf Research Institute.

George Mullan, CEO & Founder of SIS Pitches, said: “Anticipation and excitement for this year’s World Cup is growing as we get ever closer to the start of the tournament. Our team has been working hard over the last few months to ensure the surfaces we have been commissioned to work on are top class, and in the very best condition.

“Six of the World Cup stadiums, including Samara Arena, Kaliningrad Stadium and Saransk Staidum, now feature the most innovative and advanced sporting turfs in the industry, which will provide strong, durable and well-performing pitches across the whole tournament. It’s over to the stadium teams now to maintain that standard and quality until the final whistle.

“As football fans around the world count down to the start of the tournament, the pitch handovers are another step closer to the action, and we can’t wait for the matches to begin.”

The Samara Arena, formally known as the Cosmos Arena, has a capacity of 44,198 seats and is scheduled to host four first round group matches. This includes one round of 16 matches, and one quarter-final during the World Cup tournament, including Costa Rica v Serbia (Sunday 17 June), Denmark v Australia (Thursday 21 June), Uruguay v Russia (Monday 25 June), and Senegal v Columbia (Thursday 28 June). After the international tournament, it will become the new home ground of club Krylia Sovetov.

SIS Pitches Ready In Russia

The Kaliningrad Stadium, also known as the Arena Baltika, has a capacity of 35,212 and is the new home ground of Russian football club FC Baltika Kaliningrad. During the World Cup, it is scheduled to host four first round group matches: Croatia v Nigeria (Saturday 16 June); Serbia v Switzerland (Friday 22 June); Iran v Portugal (Monday 25 June); and, England v Belgium (Thursday 28 June).

Saransk Stadium, also known as the Mordovia Arena, will host 45,000 football fans for the World Cup and is set to hold tournament ties including: Peru v Denmark (Saturday 16 June); Colombia v Japan (Tuesday 19 June); Iran v Portugal (Monday 25 June); and, Panama v Tunisia (Thursday 28 June).

Dr. Andreevs, director of Kaliningrad Stadium administration, added: “SIS Pitches carried out the design and construction work of the football pitch at our stadium, and in April this year we successfully hosted our first football match. Before the match, the independent agency STRI conducted testing, which showed the high quality of the pitch. SIS Pitches are a highly qualified team of professionals that provide high quality services.”

The Samara Arena, Kaliningrad Stadium and Saransk Stadium are just three of 12 venues that will host the World Cup. Six of these have commissioned SIS Pitches expertise and feature SISGrass surfaces, including Luzhniki stadium, where the highly-anticipated World Cup Final will be played before a crowd of 80,000 and a worldwide TV audience of one billion. It will be the first time a World Cup Final has ever been played on anything but all-natural grass.

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Rostov Pitch Ready For Action

Rostov Pitch Ready For Action: The Rostov stadium, Russia’s new $330 million development – which will host five clashes during this summer’s World Cup – is officially ready for action, after its high tech hybrid pitch was given FIFA seal of approval in a formal handover.

Global pitch specialists, SIS Pitches, was commissioned to design, construct and install the surface at Rostov, using its sophisticated reinforced natural turf system called SISGrass. Combining 95% natural grass with 5% synthetic turf, it offers unrivalled pitch stability and delivers more playing hours than natural grass, as well as better recovery after use. Beneath the Rostov stadium is SISAir technology – an aeration system which manages soil moisture and promotes healthier turf by providing optimum conditions for root growth.

Rostov Pitch Ready For Action

Following complex inspections, the pitch was certified as compliant with FIFA’s quality standards by independent agency the Sports Turf Research Institute, and SIS Pitches formally transferred the pitch over to stadium management, who will handle all of its maintenance.

George Mullan, CEO & Founder of SIS Pitches Ltd, said: “With less than six weeks to go, a vital part of World Cup preparations is ensuring that, like the players, the pitches are truly world-class.

“Our crew has been working hard to get the ground into the very best condition. Rostov now has the most technologically-advanced playing surface in the world. Our SISGrass system has delivered a pitch that is durable and will perform well. It’s over to the stadium team now to maintain that standard and quality until the final whistle.

“As football fans around the world count down to the start of the tournament, the pitch handover is another step closer to the action, and we can’t wait for the matches to begin.”

The Rostov pitch installation was completed in eight days, using a staggering 48,000 kilometres of yarn – which is the equivalent of the distance around the world.

Smirnov Denis Anatolievich, Director of Rostov Stadium, added: “SIS Pitches are highly qualified professionals who provide high-quality services. They successfully carried out the design and construction of our pitch at Rostov Stadium, using the very latest technology, installing an aeration and drainage system and stitching synthetic fibres to strengthen our turf. Earlier this month we hosted our first football match, and the independent and official expert of FIFA conducted testing, which proved the high quality of the pitch.”

Rostov Pitch Ready For Action

The 45,000-seater Rostov stadium will host five World Cup Group matches, with Brazil facing Switzerland (17 June), Uruguay playing Saudi Arabia (20 June), South Korea taking on Mexico (23 June) and Iceland up against Croatia (26 June). The winner of Group G and runner up for Group H will also go head-to-head at Rostov.

Located in Rostov-on-Don, it is one of 12 venues that will host the World Cup. Six of these have commissioned SIS Pitches expertise and feature SISGrass surfaces, including Luzhniki stadium, where the highly-anticipated World Cup Final will be played before a crowd of 80,000 and a worldwide TV audience of one billion. It will be the first time a World Cup Final has ever been played on anything but all-natural grass.

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World Cup Surface Not Ready

World Cup Surface Not Ready: Groundsmen are facing a race against time to get the pitch ready for one of England’s World Cup matches in Russia.

An inspection of the playing surface at the newly-built stadium in Novgorod show it has not fully taken root.

World Cup Surface Not Ready

The Three Lions play Panama there on June 24.

Groundsmen fear replacement grass may not grow in time for the game, so are planning to fly in fresh turf from New Zealand to patch it up.

Playing on a dodgy surface usually favours the underdog and Panama are ranked 53 in the world – 37 places below the Three Lions who are currently 16th.

Vladimir Bulanov, a deputy of Nizhny Novgorod’s legislative assembly, said: “I’m not sure that the grass, which will need to play in two-and-a-half months, will be ready by the deadline.

“Grass planted last autumn under the open sky did not take root. Most likely a miracle will not happen and the case may end with the urgent importation of a lawn from New Zealand and laying it with squares just before the matches.”

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