Newport has become the laughing stock of Welsh professional sport

January 31, 2017

 

I’M passionate about sport and I’m passionate about the city of Newport.

I want to see Newport and its premier sporting teams doing well and having a great reputation across Wales and the rest of the UK.

So it pains me to see this city becoming the laughing stock of the rugby and football worlds – not because of performances on the pitch (although they’re nothing to write home about this season) but because of the state of the playing surface at Rodney Parade.

The pitch is regularly described by television pundits watching Newport County games as the worst in the Football League, while visiting Hartlepool United manager Dave Jones dubbed it a “disgrace” at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s Newport Gwent Dragons versus Newcastle Falcons match was a total farce; the pitch (pictured above by Simon Thomas on Twitter) looking like a swimming pool before the game was abandoned with 12 minutes still to play.

If you’ll pardon the pun, social media was awash with criticism of the Rodney Parade surface.

The impact of all this is not just felt by supporters of the three teams that share the pitch (owners Newport RFC being the other).

It reflects badly on Newport as a city.

It makes Wales’ third biggest centre of population look like a poor relation.

There is no doubt the current state of the pitch at Rodney Parade is not suitable for professional sport. It is simply not fit for purpose.

And this is not a new story.

It was the same last season and there will be no respite without significant investment in a state-of-the-art playing surface and drainage system.

Rodney Parade is an iconic venue in Welsh rugby history. It has huge potential and a major advantage over most modern stadiums in that it sits in the middle of a city centre.

But it is a tired venue, with much of it looking dilapidated and unloved.

As with many things in life, money is the only solution.

Whether there are substantial investors willing to plough huge amounts of money into Rodney Parade is debatable, but if there are they must be allowed to have a significant say in the stadium’s future as a sporting venue.

The old days of well-intentioned committees standing against change like a collection of sporting King Canutes must come to an end.

Dragging Rodney Parade into the 21st century will not be cheap or easy but it has to happen as part of the wider picture of a thriving city.

The city council has a role to play but any improvements at the stadium will need private investment and the kind of enabling developments that have worked well in Cardiff and Swansea.

Newport cannot go on being sneered at by the rest of Welsh sport.

 

GOOD WEEK…

For many Americans who voted for Donald Trump – he is delivering what he promised.

Many voters in the States backed Mr Trump because they felt he was different from other politicians.

Well, he is certainly proving to be that.

 

BAD WEEK…

For anyone with an ounce of humanity or a sense of fairness.

President Trump’s ban on refugees and visitors from some Muslim countries (not the ones he wants to trade with, by the way) is outrageous.

The man who promised to make America great again is making it hate again.

 

This blog is published in the South Wales Argus every Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

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