It was announced last night that Luzhniki Stadium would be laid with SISGRASS, the Maryport company's reinforced natural turf system. SIS Pitches says its product offers a safer, softer surface that protects players from injury but has up to five times the playing time of natural grass alone.
SIS chief executive George Mullan said: "The ball hasn't been leather for a long time and now the grass isn't quite what it seems, but it actually improves the game...It's the first time a World Cup final has been played on anything but all-natural grass and it's like a dream for us as a company and a community. We have come so far to get this system to the pinnacle of world sport."
Chelsea, Besiktas, Hull City FC and St George's Park have all installed SISGRASS since it was released last summer, with other clubs poised to make announcements.
The patented system was created after SIS Pitches approached Dutch engineers to design a 'giant sewing machine on tracks'. This machine methodically crawls across a pitch implanting, or 'stitching', laser guided precision rows of more than 240 million lengths of two-tone green synthetic yarn 180mm deep into the sub-surface. The yarn projects in tufts 20mm above the surface. After grass seed is sown on top, the growing roots naturally seek out and anchor onto the sub-surface yarn, building a reinforced turf that not even professional football or rugby players can easily damage.
"It strengthens the structure of the natural grass, making it stronger and more resistant to damage which means more games can be played on a pitch. It also drains more effectively. For a busy tournament like the World Cup it is perfect," Mullan said.
"At the same time it is player-friendly. Our polyethylene fibre construction actually gives it a softer feel, with more consistency and greater traction than natural grass alone. That reduces injury risk and the bounce and roll is always even, so the players love all these features."
SIS Pitches had to convince a host of international testing bodies that its new system works and is better than grass alternatives. It was submitted to stringent wear trials by the Sports Turf Research Institute, which found the surface beat unreinforced grass for damage resistance, traction, grass cover and shear strength.