CHERRIES manager Eddie Howe is preparing to welcome the arrival of three important additions for the club – new pitches.
Work is expected to be completed by the start of pre-season on re-laying the main pitch at Dean Court and two on the adjoining training ground in King’s Park.
Owner Maxim Demin agreed to stump up around £750,000 to improve the facilities and the diggers were brought in following Cherries’ final home game of the season.
White Horse Contractors from Oxfordshire, who specialise in natural and artificial sports pitches, have spent the past couple of weeks hauling out tonnes of soil and base material.
Then, three matching fibre-sand pitches will be put down together with an artificial 3G surround and new irrigation systems, both at Dean Court and on the training ground.
The club did look into the possibility of laying pitches enhanced by Desso technology – which is in place at Wembley – but were put off by a two-year waiting list.
Boss Howe told the Daily Echo: “As you move forward and the club grows, the infrastructure and facilities have to move with you. The pitches were a concern to us last season, not just the main one but the training pitches as well and, at times, they were unusable.
“For a Championship club, we had to look to improve them and Maxim has been good enough to see the benefit of that and has invested a lot of money to enable us to improve the three pitches which will have a major impact at every level for us.
“If you were to look at other Championship clubs, I would say 99 per cent already have this in place and it is a case of us trying to catch up and move forward with those clubs.
“We have to try to live with the clubs we are competing with in every sense and, although we will do it on a smaller scale, we have to move with the times.
“It is important, not just with facilities but with infrastructure and support staff, to be able to give our players every chance to excel at Championship level and this is just another stepping stone towards that.”
Howe, whose squad were often forced to train indoors due to an unseasonably wet winter, added: “There is a difference in quality with these pitches in terms of grass and how the ball will roll and there is a definite improvement in durability.
“They will last longer and will see us through a tough winter. When you are training on two pitches all season, they take a lot of wear and use.
“With our style, it is absolutely imperative we give the players the tools to play that type of football and the pitch is key to that.”