• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 9:24pm
NewsHong Kong

Two blunders added to Hong Kong Stadium pitch fiasco

Dumping of 30 tonnes of sand and installation of pumps to reduce the groundwater may have made poor playing surface worse, it is claimed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 7:38am

Two mistakes were made in efforts to repair the failing Hong Kong Stadium pitch in time for last week's Barclays Asia Trophy soccer matches that may actually have made it worse, the South China Morning Post has learned.

But an overseas consultant involved in the decisions insisted there were no other choices, given the poor condition of the overworked turf, which almost caused the high-profile matches to be cancelled.

A source close to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and a local turf specialist said the errors were made in dumping a huge amount of sand on the boggy midfield and installing pumps in an effort to reduce groundwater.

The source said the department's New Zealand consultant, Alex Glasgow, instructed workers to fill the midfield with 30 tonnes of sand in pouring rain on Friday, raising the surface by 5cm.

"Instead of making the muddy pitch muddier by pouring 30 tonnes of sand onto it, they should have just left it and focused on spiking to let the grass breathe," the source said. The amount of sand was 50 per cent more than the 20 tonnes used in an average year, the source said.

Workers were also asked to drill six holes in the midfield to install the pumps.

But turf specialist Eric Lee Yin-tse said: "They wanted temporary relief by diluting the mud, but the change of level and soil composition would further worsen the drainage problem."

He added that opening six holes in the pitch would have made it more fragile. "It would threaten the safety of the players as they could slip and hurt their ankles," he said.

Lee's comments came after the government pledged to review the maintenance of the pitch and blamed the wet weather and the frequency of matches for its appalling condition.

In a reply to the Post, Glasgow said the actions taken were decided jointly with Darren Baldwin, grounds manager for one of the participating teams, Tottenham Hotspur. He said the stadium's management, the English Premier League and Hong Kong Football Association had agreed.

A source close to Premier League soccer involved with the supervision of maintenance on the pitch said the playing surface required "open-heart surgery".

The source said there had been a communications breakdown between workers and advisers and described the situation as a catastrophe of mismanagement.

Cancelling the games would have been a financial disaster.

"If that tournament hadn't happened, the costs would have run into hundreds of millions of dollars," the source said.

The quality of the sand used was blamed earlier for the problems with the pitch.

But supplier Wealth Bridge Trading Company said: "The quality of the sand met the department's specification and it was in good condition when unloaded in the stadium's car park."

It said the sand was from Guangdong's West River and was sieved on the barge delivering it.

It is understood that the department's sand cost about HK$180 a tonne, against HK$650 tonne for that on the Sai Tso Wan pitch favoured by overseas players and the national team.

Football Association chief executive Mark Sutcliffe said a well-maintained pitch should be able to cope with bad weather.



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This article is now closed to comments

I feel sorry to see the poor performance and ignorance of LCSD staff.
The management showed pictures to the media that the sport ground was in good turf condition. They forgot that the pictures were taken on shiny days. They should have shown pictures to show the condition of the sport ground on rainy days. The drainage system was designed and built to cater for the runoff. The drainage problem should have been sported months earlier, but unfortunately it was not spotted or spotted but without follow up.
Someone excused that HK would need a sport ground since HK Stadium was too old. Without changing the attitude of the LCSD staff, adding new sportground simply adds liability to HK Government.
Would the Bureau chief focus on some fundamental issues before they dream to organise any international sport event, e.g. East Asia Sports Games.
Every one blaming each other. Typical!
Well here's another imput:
1. Too many events held within a short time for a grass pitch. Yes!
2. The wrong grass. You need an indigenous grass even though Western players may not like its co****ness.
3. The weather: Less sunshine this year probably since records began? .......... caused by...
4. Climate change:. We are all responsible for this with out thirst for burning fossil fuels to produce our energy demands.
5. Happy Valley has some of the worst road side pollution levels 24/7. Do you think that grass and vegetation favour this?
recycled glass sand was used at Trafalgar Park NZ in a pitch. The NZ clean climate results in a dense sward so the players are on the grass cushion not the glass sand layer. One could foresee major disasters of this usage in Hong Kong where the climate is polluted and grass swards are thin. Slide tackling on glass sand would be interesting here. Perhaps Fiona would volunteer ? As she knows recycled glass is used in for the www.greenglass.org.hk/?p=338 Eco Block which would not be financially viable without EPD subvention. Also the proponent of the blocks from HK Polytechnic is a staunch EPD supporter for the SWC incinerator thus in a seeming conflict of environmental interest situation. The best, albeit not most cost effective use of recycled glass would be as a replacement for building sand - local labour/transport/crushing/ grading/operating costs for recycling glass are high compared to sharp sand costs. Conversely if HKG used plasma gasification the resultant molten slag could be crushed & used as aggregate or building sand at lower cost than locally recycling glass.
forget it hk, you will never be 100% commited to world class sporting events. Look at the HK golf open.
Better of demolishing the stadium, build flats & line the tycoons pockets.
why import river sand for football pitches (and beyond)?
many companies around the world produce high spec sand that is used for sports pitches and more from 'waste' products like used glass bottles. producing such secondary purpose products locally would give multiple benefits for hk - economic diversification, job creation, lower carbon footprint, be sustainable... - and crucially, stop 96 glass bottles out of 100 being used once and thrown to landfill.


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