Training ground is pitch perfect for Pompey

Pitch improvements are being made at Fratton Park and at the clubs training ground at Roko
Pitch improvements are being made at Fratton Park and at the clubs training ground at Roko
Ben Close. Picture: Shaun Boggust

Beautiful game is great – but Pompey want to win

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IT’S A facility any club in the Football League would be proud of.

And development work this summer will ensure that standing is cemented.

Pompey fans, of course, did so much to ensure that’s the case with their outstanding fund-raising efforts.

Blues chief executive, Mark Catlin, is happy to report the fruits of their labour are now close to being reaped.

Just over two years ago, through the Tifosy scheme, £270,000 was raised by supporters to construct two new pitches at the club’s Roko base in Copnor.

A total of 5,494 funders contributed to that total, with planning permission granted last year.

Now the work is heading towards completion, along with maintenance work on the existing surfaces.

When looking at their home, it may be easy to forget that, until three years ago, the club were tenants at a facility shared with a school in Eastleigh.

Catlin is pleased it’s a very different story now.

He said: ‘The new pitches are looking good.

‘I think the existing pitches will be ready at some point in June.

‘That’s the two-and-a-half we’ve already got and the other two pitches we’re looking at some time in August.

‘It’s fantastic for everyone associated with the football club.

‘One of the biggest pluses we’ve had since the fans took ownership of the club is the investments taken place off the football pitch.

‘We’ll continue to invest in the training ground as well.

‘It’s a training ground clubs up to and including the Championship would be proud of.’

It’s not just the surfaces at Roko which are seeing a major overhaul this summer.

Catlin explained the Fratton Park pitch is also being relaid, something which is seen as a necessary investment with Paul Cook’s footballing philosophy.

But it’s a commitment which doesn’t come cheaply for Pompey.

‘It’s tough for people to realise there’s so much investment which goes into pitches,’ said Catlin.

‘If you look at Fratton Park, we’ll make an investment in the pitch.

‘We’re looking at in the region, for a standard pitch, of £20-40,000 per pitch.

‘That’s the type of level we’re looking at. And there’s no difference between Fratton Park and the training ground pitches.

‘What I’m trying to get at is pitch investment at the end of the season for any normal work is in the region of £20,000-£40,000. Every season.

‘But it’s an investment in the playing surface. We like to play football so it’s an investment we need to make.

‘You grow the pitches back from seed. It’s an expensive exercise to do that.

‘The pitch at Fratton has been wonderful and there has been a lot of work which has gone on there.

‘Fratton is being done now. You need specialist equipment and they take the top off.

‘It gets completely reseeded and fertilised and that’s an expensive cost.

‘You can take a decision to not do it, but we want to invest and do things properly at this football club.’