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05 May 2020 : Hybrid Carpet pitch to be installed at the Millbank Linnets Stadium

Runcorn Linnets are delighted to announce that, in conjunction with the Football Foundation, Premier League, Sport England, The Football Association and Cheshire County FA, we have been chosen to take part in the second phase of Sport England's Carpet Hybrid Football Pitch Pilot Scheme.

This is the culmination of two years of hard work, which has included a site selection process, feasibility studies, technical surveys, a rigorous application process, countless meetings, 'phone calls & e-mails - with plenty of hurdles to overcome!

A further statement will be released in due course with our various partners, including some of our treasured club sponsors and supporters who have all played a critical role in making this scheme possible, but the club wanted to make this initial announcement so that everyone is kept fully in the loop.

We are sure you will have lots of questions, so thought it best to do a Q&A-style bulletin...

What is a carpet hybrid pitch?

The carpet hybrid is a sports pitch of more than 95% natural grass, grown through and intertwined with a carpet of grass fibre shoots. It has a base of sand, rootzone and gravel in various depths and layers. Hybrid pitches are now commonplace in elite-level sport such as the Premier League, with the difference being that Premier League pitches are a "stitched" hybrid with the fibres being injected into the existing surface.

Carpet hybrids are a newer concept, which offer different degrees of durability. The carpet itself is something of a globe trotter, starting its manufacturing process in South Korea, then making a stop off in Australia, followed by a stay in Belgium before it eventually reaches its UK distributor!

Will the pitch be artificial, like a 3G pitch?

No. The pitch is in essence a grass pitch. It will look like a grass pitch, is maintained like a grass pitch and most importantly will "play" like a grass pitch. The fibres are there to provide extra durability compared to the natural grass, meaning that our new pitch will be much more durable compared to the old and, therefore, able to take a high amount of usage while remaining in top-class condition. The club will be provided with all the specialist equipment required to maintain and irrigate the hybrid pitch, along with new equipment to maintain our grass pitches that surround the Millbank Linnets Stadium to a far superior quality than has ever been possible before.

Where will this pitch be installed?

The new pitch will be installed at the Millbank Linnets Stadium and replaces the pitch, which has served us since we moved in 10 years ago.

Do any other teams have a similar pitch?

Yes they do! The name of our carpet is Hero, currently considered to be the world-leading hybrid carpet. Among others, there is a small team in Spain called Real Madrid, who have exactly the same pitch as ours installed in their B team stadium! Also several Premier League clubs are now having carpet hybrid pitches installed for their first-team training facilities and Academy team matches. Similar carpet hybrids were used at the FIFA World Cup in Russia and for the last few years, Brentford FC have used a carpet hybrid very similar to our Hero for their Football League matches at Griffin Park.

Who will be able to use this pitch as a home ground?

Undoubtedly, the greatest feature of this pitch is its high degree of durability when compared to traditional grass pitches. So while providing a world-class surface for our 1st team and NPLFA Academy team to play on, we can finally offer the same to our fantastic Ladies team, which has often suffered over the years from having to find alternative venues when the old pitch needed rest, recuperation and some TLC.

We are pleased to announce that from next season our new Runcorn Linnets Under-21s team will also be calling the Millbank Linnets Stadium their home. We will have a top-class playing surface for emerging Linnets trying to make the step up into Ello's Senior Team.

While the 1st, Academy, Ladies and Under-21s will play all home games on the new pitch, its usage most certainly doesn't stop there!

The pitch will be available for all our affiliated teams, meaning that our junior section can make use of the facility for their training sessions along with hosting prestige fixtures on the pitch.

This will be particularly well received by parents, who will be able to take shelter in the nice, warm clubhouse on cold winter nights!

This is part of a collaborative effort by all sections of the club to create a pathway from our youngest age group (Akidemy) right through to our men's and ladies' 1st teams.

Will the facility be available for community use?

Most definitely! Our position as a community club was a key factor in the club being selected to have this wonderful facility. We have been working to develop relationships with various local community groups and we would welcome interest from other local organisations for whom the use of the pitch would be beneficial.

The pitch will also be available for short-term or indeed long-term use by local amateur teams for training sessions, 5/7-a-side competitions and full pitch hire.

Further details will be released when available so please keep your eyes peeled for updates!

When will the pitch be ready?

The pitch will be ready for use in time for the start of next season, assuming our NPL North West Division campaign starts in August as it would normally.

What does this mean for the club moving forward?

We are truly very lucky to have been chosen to have such a world-class pitch installed at our Millbank Linnets Stadium. The desire to have a top-class, durable playing surface benefiting all of our teams and also the community has been a top priority of the Trust Board of Runcorn Linnets for several years.

It has taken an awful lot of hard work to reach this point, but the hard work doesn't stop here. Our stadium is going to be open and in use most days of the week, most weeks of the year - meaning that the work required to keep everything running and operating smoothly has just increased enormously.

If you feel you are able to help in any way as we take the next step into the club's future, please let us know.

All we need is your time and enthusiasm, as little or as much of it as you're able to give!

Our biggest concern currently is everyone's safety. Please keep following the advice on staying safe during the Coronavirus outbreak. Look after each other and yourselves.

When we all get through this, we will have a wonderful new pitch - perfect for playing and watching quality football!

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