Liam Buckley has revealed that consultation with key figures in maintaining The Showgrounds pitch has led to a decision not to play any pre-season matches on the surface.
The Sligo Rovers manager had been planning on taking charge of the team for the first time in the ground next Tuesday against Sure Sports FC from America.
However, that game has since been moved to Milebush in Castlebar following necessary work on the surface during the off-season.
Buckley said: “I did want to have the players get a feel of a match on The Showgrounds pitch, like any manager does ahead of the new season. We didn’t announce the game because of the choice of venue still up in the air.
“As you know I’m keen to get the team playing the ball on the ground and develop a passing style that I’ve had with previous clubs, and key to that is a good surface.
“Obviously it makes it a lot more difficult if the pitch isn’t conducive to it.
“I’ve been speaking with George Mullen; we couldn’t really ask for for more when it comes to knowledge on this matter.
“Over the last number of weeks there has been investment, time and financial, in the playing surface here. It’s fair to say George has really done all he can to have the pitch in the best condition possible for the start of the league season.
“At this time of year, a match wouldn’t be advisable given the work that has been done. We want to respect that and let it have the best effect it can because playing a game could jeapardise it.
“Therefore the decision has been made to play on pitches away from The Showgrounds. A lot of them will be on grass, rather than astro, which is what I’m looking for overall.
“I know it might be a bit disappointing for the fans who want to see the players as soon as possible. Equally I’m sure there’ll be an understanding that it’s important to prioritise the surface.
“The club would probably like a game as well to bring in spectators given we are away in our first match, but they also know the pitch has an entire season of games ahead and this is a time of year where you can do some work on it.
“I’m very thankful to George and indeed all the staff here who maintain the ground.
“We’re excited to be out there in front of our fans and look forward to 22nd February to the game against St Pat’s.”
The work on The Showgrounds pitch includes on the goalmouths, re-seeding and more.
The club would also like to express our gratitude to George, we are enormously thankful for his commitment to the Bit O’ Red.
The pre-season schedule will have two more matches added shortly.
Tuesday, 22nd January
Sligo Rovers v Sure Sports FC, Milebush Park, 2pm