Pitch condition could be a problem if more heavy rain falls
Another weekend of wild weather could spell problems for Auckland’s footballers, who will not see the effect of last weekend’s downpours until today.
Players were forced to abandon 30 matches as conditions deteriorated on May 4 and officials had to postpone a further 20 on May 5.
Seven of the 15 Lotto Northern League games scheduled were abandoned, including the premier league derby between Bay Olympic and Three Kings United at Olympic Park which was called off at halftime.
Mt Albert-Ponsonby’s first division duel with Hibiscus Coast lasted just 10 minutes at Anderson Park.
Federation chief executive David Parker says because of the long, dry summer many Auckland grounds were dried up before the rain. None have degraded to a point of closure yet.
There are some precautionary closures for training, he says.
‘‘With a drying spell forecast for most of the week we are hoping competition schedules for the weekend will be largely unaffected.’’
The Auckland Council will advise competition officials today of any grounds that are closed or those with restricted play hours. This may mean times or venue changes but games will only be postponed as a last resort if no suitable grounds can be found.
There is a risk that the underlying conditions from the dry summer could still have an impact on the season, Mr Parker says.
Soil moisture levels are improving, grass growth is good as soil temperatures are still high, and cracks and drainage channels on fields are closing up or have been filled by the council using sand.
Mr Parker says steady rainfall is still needed for continued grass recovery and increased cover.
‘‘With each week that passes we get nearer to normal and the risk of a really badly affected season decreases just a little.’’
But another prolonged heavy wet spell could still bring the sport bigger than average problems this year, he says.
‘‘We are not yet back to normal, though there is a risk that players and football families may think we are.’’
Artificial grounds are part of the solution to improving conditions, he says.
Three Kings United general manager Steven Reid says it is always disappointing to call off matches and the club is still eager for an artificial turf.
Auckland Council’s Sports Field Capacity Development programme will see $190 million invested in all three winter codes to 2021, including 37 artificial fields.
Two artificial pitches at Seddon Fields in Western Springs are due to open in four weeks.
Teams can check auckland football.org.nz later this afternoon to see if their game is as scheduled, has been moved or postponed.