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The UEFA Champions League Final kicks off in just 2 days’ time – Wednesday 21 May – and the Manchester Utd and Chelsea players have already flown out there to prepare for what promises to be a great match. As always with major football trophy finals, it will be a colourful spectacle – the thousands of British fans will be sporting their team’s colours (Man Utd’s red & white, Chelsea’s blue & white) and the pitch (installed by British returfing experts SIS Pitches) will add a marvellously, contrasting, glorious green to the whole affair.

However, the specialist installation team only began their work after another team had finished theirs – the fleet of 28 refrigerated trucks and their drivers.

So why refrigerate the grass? We asked one of the SIS experts and apparently freshly cut and rolled turf, such as is used on football pitch installations, can heat up quite easily. This is known in the trade as ‘sod heating’ and can result in the turf suffering heat stress and dying. Potentially disastrous consequences then if you’re talking about a UEFA Final! So to transport the turf any reasonable distance it has to be within a cool, temperature controlled environment – hence the refrigerated trucks. A great example of how an entirely different, unrelated industry can play a key role in sports stadia management.

UEFA Champions League Final on 21 May 2008

Imagine if you can … 28 refrigerated trucks carrying 8,000 m2 of grass turf on a journey over 7 days covering more than 1,000 miles – and all for just one football match! This was the scenario ahead of the new natural grass pitch installation at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium – the ‘stage’ for the UEFA Champions League Final on 21 May 2008 where Man Utd play Chelsea.

In what promises to be a classic, all British final, there’s no question that the pitch will play a vital role. Providing a pitch suitable for world class players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Andriy Shevchenko and Didier Drogba is no easy matter but thanks to Support In Sport (SIS) and to the 10-man strong SIS team who installed the new natural grass pitch, there should be plenty to smile about when the match finally gets under way.

“The operation went very smoothly,” said George Mullan, SIS Chief Executive Officer. “The surface was levelled using box grade lasers to deliver levels that will allow both teams to play a passing game.

Nice to think too that the involvement of SIS makes it an even more all British affair. Should be a night to remember

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