AC Milan and Inter’s concerns about the San Siro pitch have been listened to, because the surface has undergone a re-sodding during the recent break.
La Gazzetta dello Sport write how a very rare situation has occurred whereby there was an almost two-week gap in the home fixture lists for both Milan and Inter.
From Milan-Roma on Sunday 14 January to Milan-Bologna on Saturday 27, there was 12 full days without football for San Siro, a coincidence due to the absence of cups and the simultaneous postponement of Inter-Atalanta to make room for the Supercoppa in Saudi Arabia.
Considering that 11 matches will be played in just 28 days in February, it goes without saying that the opportunity was perfect to carry out a restyling of the San Siro field, especially given the concerns.
It was not just a simple tidy up either, but a real re-sodding that allows the two Milanese clubs to return to playing on a completely new pitch from the 22nd round of the season.
The conditions of the field was ‘not terrible’ but with a very busy month on the horizon, the serious risk was to arrive with a worn surface to fundamental matches (Inter-Juventus, Milan-Napoli, Inter-Atlético Madrid, Milan-Atalanta and Inter-Atalanta).
The clubs have invested a total of €500k to remove the turf on which the players played until mid-January and replace it with a new one.
This is a re-sodding process which the Meazza undergoes up to three times a year due to extremely busy calendars and which allows the turf to be returned to optimal conditions in just over a week.
For about 30 years Giovanni Castelli has been the head agronomist for Serie A and he constantly collaborates with the clubs. It was Castelli himself, about ten years ago, who proposed the hybrid natural-synthetic pitch technique for San Siro, something which had not yet been seen in Italy.
“Adriano Galliani used to resort to re-sowing up to 10 times a season, now it doesn’t exceed 2-3 based on the football calendar,” he said.
“Due to the way the third tier is built, the sun illuminates the turf only for a segment between Inter’s Curva Nord and the grandstand opposite the main one and only in some seasons.
“Inside the Meazza, only 1/30th of the light from outside reaches in. If we combine this with the fact that in Milan there is a tenth of the sunlight that warms Naples every year, one immediately understands that the San Siro pitch needs special care.
“The problem can be partially solved with trolleys that illuminate the field continuously like in a greenhouse, but it takes a day to position them and another to remove them, so often they can’t even be used if there are matches that are too close together.
“Photosynthetic lights and fans are used, air is blown from the background. Or there are also some types of sheds that are placed on the doors.
“They are called Seegrow with which carbon dioxide, some fertilisers and water vapour are sprayed complete with LED lights that change color based on the time the grass grows.
“So grass is born in 36 hours that would take weeks to grow, then during the first pre-match warm-up of the goalkeepers, however, the studs chop it all up (laughs).”