Raith won’t ‘penny pinch’ on new artificial pitch

The grass pitch at Stark's Park will be ripped up this summer and replaced with a new woven carpet artificial surface.
The grass pitch at Stark's Park will be ripped up this summer and replaced with a new woven carpet artificial surface.

Raith Rovers are pressing ahead with plans to install an artificial pitch this summer, regardless of what league the club is playing in next season.

Rovers are currently in a battle to win promotion to the Championship – either by overtaking leaders Ayr United to win the title, or via the play-offs.

However, the outcome will not have an impact on the club’s plans to go plastic, with planning approval now in place and contractors bidding for the job.

Raith vice-chairman David Sinton told the Press: “We’ve been working with our consultants, Professional Sports Turf Designs, and the job has been put out to tender.

“We have received six applications back, which is great, so we’re now at the stage of discussing these and we hope to appoint a contractor within the next week or 10 days.”

Sinton also confirmed the intention to install a woven carpet surface, similar to the one used at Falkirk Stadium, which is said to aid resilience and result in a more even roll for the ball.

“We’re not trying to penny pinch here, we’re looking at a good quality surface,” he said.

“We’re going with a woven carpet surface, which is supposed to be superior to the tufted version.

“We’re looking for something that will last – we don’t want something that needs attention or replaced any time soon.”

Mr Sinton confirmed that the new pitch will be two metres longer, but the same width, with no extra work required to the surroundings.

He added: “There has to be adequate run-off area, and while we’ll be slightly under the recommended distance, the SFA is happy and it’s well within the tolerances of other clubs.”

While it is hoped the work can be started and completed during the close season, should Raith fail to secure automatic promotion, the potential extra fortnight in the play-offs could result in the work running into the start of next campaign.

“Play-offs would make things a lot tighter for time,” Sinton added.

“The Betfred Cup starts in July so we might need to agree with the SPFL to play games elsewhere if the pitch isn’t ready.

“We’re currently considering our options in that regard.”

It is anticipated that the project will cost the club in the region of £500,000 with most of the funds coming from stadium owner John Sim via his company Stark’s Park Properties.

Mr Sinton added: “We’re investigating the possibility of grants from Scottish sports authorities but as it stands it will be mostly financed by the holding company.”

Once the pitch is installed, Stark’s Park Properties will turn its attention to other areas of the stadium, with the Railway Stand

“We want to do some work to the rest of stadium,” Sinton revealed. “We go around other grounds even at League One level and clubs with average gates lower than ours seem to fill larger entertaining suites.

“We’re very restricted at the moment so we’re looking at the Railway Stand to see what can be accommodated there.

“That’s at the preliminary stages and we’re getting some architect plans drawn up to give us an idea over how many people we might accommodate.

“That will give us something to base our financial planning on.”