The pitch at Prenton Park has well and truly gone south. After what could’ve been a high profile match against Manchester United getting postponed, and even Tranmere Rovers having a game postponed that same week, it’s become pretty clear that this pitch is not sustainable for any team anymore. Not for League One Tranmere, not for FA WSL teams trying to stay up like Liverpool Women.
Following the postponement of the Tranmere Rovers game back in January, Tranmere owners Mark and Nicola Palios released a statement explaining the deterioration of the pitch. They were able to identify the problem as the secondary drainage system failing, and the historic rains of the winter not helping that, but unfortunately it’s a problem that can’t be solved until the end of the season when the pitch is redone in May. With at least two teams playing on the pitch until the end of the season, it’s only going to get worse.
Now, what should’ve been another home match for Liverpool Women has been postponed once again, after a pitch inspection by the referee deemed “parts of the surface” unplayable.
CEO of Liverpool FC and chairman of the Liverpool Women’s team Peter Moore released a very diplomatic statement on Sunday following the news of the second postponement: “We know how frustrating this is for supporters as well as the players and staff of both clubs who have put in a hard week of preparation for the game.
“I speak regularly with Mark Palios at Tranmere and we had a solid pitch on Saturday but overnight rain saw it deteriorate despite the best efforts of all the hard-working grounds staff at Tranmere acting in conjunction with our own grounds team.
“While these problems are not unique to us – with other Women’s Super League games called off both on Sunday and earlier this season – we need to try to find a solution to provide our LFC Women with the surface they deserve.
“To that end we will continue to explore all the options open to us.”
It’s nice to finally hear from Peter Moore regarding the situation but that doesn’t change the fact that Liverpool now have two matches to rearrange because of a waterlogged pitch. Only one other match was postponed this weekend because of the same reasons and it was Bristol City vs Tottenham. There have been some matches that were deemed fine to play that probably shouldn’t have been and with Liverpool proudly touting their upcoming multi-million pound training facility to house both the Academy and the Men’s team (that admittedly isn’t ready yet), their insistence on playing on a rapidly deteriorating and substandard pitch only makes the Women’s team look more and more neglected. They can’t even play on the pitch as it stands.
Even in the Palios’ statement in January, they admitted that the reality is “until we can take the pitch up completely in May and do the work on the sub-structure, all we can do is to cover it when heavy rain is coming and use the lights to encourage more grass to grow, and nurse it through.”
The better part of the solution would be finding somewhere else for the Women’s team to play - which is essentially the only option at this point to try and salvage the pitch for even Tranmere Rovers. This late in the season, it might be a Herculean task. The fact is that even with all of Liverpool’s resources and help mitigating the situation, there is no real fix for it until May. One could argue that this would never happen at Anfield because of the millions of pounds spent maintaining that pitch, all the way down to the sub-structure, and that’s just not money that Tranmere has, especially after Liverpool leaning on them.
All we as fans can do is wait to see what is done for the Women’s team, and even Tranmere Rovers.