The big thaw focuses minds on drainage

Drainage suppliers and installers at the BTME trade show in Harrogate, north Yorkshire, were anticipating booming sales as melting snow and ice continued to threaten to drown sports surfaces across the country.

Econoplas, the company behind drainage system Aquadyne, had seen an 18 per cent surge in enquiries prior to the show. Sales and marketing manager James Arrowsmith said the pace of new business growth showed little sign of slowing down.

"We have been flat out at the show," he added. "People have been coming and saying, 'We have had real problems with all this snow, and now all this rain,' so enquiries have been up."

Oxford-based contractor Speedcut said many grounds managers will not yet have realised the full extent of damage caused by the cold and wet conditions, but added that the signs looked good for a boost in drainage and renovation work.

Contracts manager Kevin Smith said: "If it continues to be wet it could generate a lot more enquiries because of the conditions that will come out of it. That is what we normally find, so we certainly hope there will be lots more work.

"When you look back and see where we have had a very good year, you can almost be certain that it follows very wet or bad weather."

Although many grounds managers have reported diminishing budgets, Manchester City FC grounds manager Roy Rigby said the weather had even proved to be a wake-up call to Premier League football clubs.

"If people have the money they will spend more on pitches this year because of the weather. The weather has hit a lot of people and it's upset them. A lot have been caught on the hop," he said.

"Managers are the key to bigger budgets. They might not have had the results they wanted recently and maybe blame it on the pitches because teams have had to train in stadiums, so this might be the year they are willing to spend on things such as under-soil heating."

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