Relaying of the much-maligned DW Stadium surface gets underway today and should be complete for next Monday’s visit of Liverpool. Not before time, you might say.
In seasons past, we’ve seen the pitch suffer badly around this time of year. You can point to any number of factors: poor weather, undersoil heating malfunction, moles etc. I will also concede that it doesn’t help that we have to groundshare with a rugby league team, but that isn’t the root of the problem.
And to be honest, I don’t think I could tell you for sure exactly what is causing the pitch to break up year upon year. After all, there are plenty of other northern clubs — Burnley, Stoke and Preston to name but a few — who’ve managed to keep their pitches in decent condition despite inclement weather, and they’re run on similar budgets to the Latics.
The ‘sabotaged’ undersoil heating theory
Perhaps the technology involved in the DW undersoil heating system was cobbled together with the lower leagues in mind, because even though Dave Whelan had ambitions of the Premiership back when the stadium was completed in 1999, I wouldn’t be surprised if he pinched the odd penny here and there. Good old Uncle Dave, ever the tightwad Northerner.
However, I’m inclined to blame this failure on the now slightly dated and probably very rusty technology rather than an inability to foot the heating bill or even bunch of Bolton fans with spanners. Besides, do you not think we’d have heard about that by now? There’s a deadly anti-Trotter forcefield within a one-mile radius of the stadium that’s only turned off when we play Bolton. They’ve got a similar one at the Reebok as well – it’s called the car park.
The ‘too much sand’ theory
Aw come on, it isn't that bad.
The wonderful Wikipedia journalists at Sky have mentioned the high sand content in the DW surface doesn’t exactly help the pitch hold together very well. Can you blame us Wiganers for dreaming of the seaside? On more than one occasion last year, the powers that be lorried half of Blackpool beach to Wigan town centre, building a large sandpit just outside Hampson’s.
Maybe afterwards, the whole lot was ‘illegally’ dumped (read: fly tipped with permission) in the centre circle at the DW – Big Dave and his penny pinching again? Nah, don’t be so cynical.
The ‘there is no conspiracy’ theory
On this occasion, I would say a combination of bad luck and bad weather have worked against us. The particularly cold winter we’ve just experienced has seen more snow fall in Wigan than there has been in the entire decade, and the poor old undersoil heating has really taken some stick over the last few months. In fact, it’s a surprise the thing never broke down before it did, and when it finally gave up the ghost last month, the groundsmen were fighting a losing battle to keep the surface at Arsene Wenger standards for this month’s three home games in a row.
Why would Roberto Martinez, a manager who’s made it clear how passing is an integral part of his tactics this season, want the DW to be in such a state that every time the ball hits the ground you need a crowbar to get it out again? Go back to reading the Daily Mail, there are no conspiracies here.