Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald has revealed the Firhill pitch is in line for major repair works this summer – but they never considered an artificial surface despite their fixture backlog.
Firhill was subjected to its fourth postponement of the season on Friday when the waterlogged pitch put paid to the visit of Aberdeen.
Tonight’s Ladbrokes Premiership encounter against St Johnstone is in little danger, though, with the pitch dried out and no rain forecast.
“Because we have a couple of areas that are really damaged, all it takes is four hours of constant rain and it puts it in doubt,” Archibald said. “We will look to re-lay it or definitely get drainage in and fix those areas. We have already had people in to look at it.
“The problem will be in the summer when it’s such a short shutdown with the League Cup starting earlier.”
There are some barren patches but Thistle are confident the situation will improve and one unusually wet winter has not led to discussions over artificial turf.
“We spoke about it three seasons ago, the season we came up,” Archibald said. “At that point they said if we went with astro we wouldn’t come up.
“Obviously that has changed now but it’s not something we have looked at since. Obviously this year it’s been highlighted with astro pitches and the media furore about it, and our games being called off hasn’t helped, but I’d rather spend money getting the grass pitch as best we can.”
Thistle beat Motherwell 1-0 in the most recent Firhill encounter, on 2 February, and defender Dan Seaborne felt the pitch made the game a struggle.
“It was horrific that game actually,” Seaborne said. “We might have made the best of a bad scenario and probably played some okay football at times. That’s credit to the lads and the manager for the way he wants us to play but it’s by no means good. But it’s the same for both teams so we both have to go out there and put our football across and try to get a result.”
The latest postponement followed Thistle’s fruitless journey to Edinburgh the previous weekend, when their game against Hearts was called off. Archibald added: “You can take it when it’s just the one week and the boys can get their heads back down and prepare for the next game, but that was a hard one to take.
“We had to find somewhere to train over the weekend and the lads look like they need a game. They have that pre-season look about them when they are fed up of training.”
Meanwhile, St Johnstone’s hopes of signing Julien Faubert ended after the former West Ham and Real Madrid midfielder left Scotland to consider other offers. The 32-year-old was on trial with Saints last week and got a 45-minute run out against Hearts in a development league game.
However, ahead of tonight’s match, manager Tommy Wright revealed Faubert had left, although 27-year-old Bulgarian centre-back Plamen Krachuno, formerly of Slavia Sofia, has signed a deal in Perth until the end of the season.
Wright said: “Julien has gone back, he has had a couple of offers, I believe one in America and another offer.
“I fully understand why he has gone. He did extremely well here, a really good professional but there are a couple of other options. Maybe warmer climates are more attractive.”
Saints are one club who may install an artificial surface but Wright is “very much in the grass camp” not least because he is unable to play striker Steven MacLean on artificial surfaces due to medical advice after knee problems.
However, St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown said: “We have to give serious consideration to getting an all-weather pitch and it’s something we’re thinking about.”
Wright said: “My thoughts haven’t changed. We have had a freakish winter with the amount of rain. As a chairman he has to look at every possibility but I can’t see it in the near future. We have players who can’t play on it.”
Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Motherwell was Saints’ first three points since 5 December and took them into fifth place and Wright is looking for his side to go on a run.
The Northern Irishman said: “It was nice to get the win. It got us back into the top six and now this is one of the games in hand that we have got so we have to try to make the most of it.”