Arsenal have ordered two pitches (1,400 square metres) of new artificial grass from the Tisca Tiara textile company in Switzerland as they look to upgrade their all-weather facilities at London Colney.
A delegation from the Gunners, led by Academy head Andries Jonker, visited the company in autumn last year, and put the state-of-the-art turf through rigorous testing before placing an order.
“We travelled around Switzerland with them for two days,” revealed Sports Section Director Andreas Tischhauser.
“Andries Jonker was there and carried out thorough tests, looking at ball behaviour and how the grass affected the skin etc. He was excited.
“Then we went to an artificial pitch where a group of youngsters wanted to play. As they didn’t all have football boots, two or three of them played barefoot. That really impressed Jonker. He said, ‘if people can play barefoot it must be very skin friendly.’ ”
According to Swissinfo.ch, Tisca Tiara created the new, tough grass to exhibit the same ball behaviour as natural grass but also reducing the risk of injury and burns. Moreover, each individual blade’s construction means conventional support with sand or granules is not necessary.
Apparently Arsenal paid 150,000 Swiss Francs for the turf, although whether that was before or after the currency’s recent roller coaster journey we’re not sure. At today’s price that’s around £100,000.
The turf is due to be used at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada later this year. “It’s certainly trendy,” continued Tischhauser.
“But it’s not our aim to replace traditional grass. We think natural grass belongs inside stadiums, but every club needs artificial turf to train on and also for the juniors. It’s all part of having a modern infrastructure.”
Arseblog News does wonder whether this latest development is part of our ongoing investigation into the number of injuries suffered by our players. Back in October it was revealed by facilities manager Sean O’Connor that London Colney had ten Desso artificial pitches; 95-98% real grass, with an added 2-3% of synthetic fibres mixed in.
Update: We’ve been asked to clarify that these pitches are being considered for the Hale End academy complex, and as yet no purchase has been made.