MJ Abbott

Construction of new training ground

Bristol Rovers Football Club, The Quarters Training Ground


A new training ground for The Pirates on a disused site

Having previously worked at the Memorial Stadium carrying out drainage, irrigation, renovation and fibre installation, the club were keen to maintain our good working relationship at their new training ground.

The site in Almondsbury, owned by the club for many years, was disused and had become overgrown and derelict.

Bristol Rovers utilised MJ Abbott to provide budget advice in the preceding years before starting on site, and Andy Cole of iTurf Management for design and agronomy advice.

MJ Abbott started work on site in June 2020 with Andy Cole making regular monitoring visits during construction. The club retained Andy to provide agronomic support during grow in.

Despite global COVID-19 unknowns in early 2020, the club remained determined and committed to proceed with their plans for development of the site.

Project challenges

Sourcing suitable construction materials during a global pandemic

Although COVID-19 forced some clubs to re-schedule planned projects, MJ Abbott had a full programme of work during 2020. Suitable materials to meet sport turf specifications became in demand nationally and within our own business, coupled with the haulage industry being affected by COVID-19, sourcing materials became very challenging.

Bristol Rovers was a project where the company investigated utilising an alternative gravel. Under guidance of Andy Cole, a recycled aggregate was found, which passed initial testing and grading analysis, was readily available and could be rapidly delivered to site, and importantly, retained quality consistency during construction.

Andy comments: “Abbotts found an alternative aggregate to use in the drainage layer because usual sources were in high demand. The aggregate, originally used in the railway industry, was crushed down and graded to suit the sizing required by bridging factors used in sports pitches. This alternative source of suitable material undoubtedly kept the project on schedule.”

Water is an essential requirement for all football grounds maintenance departments. Pitches designed to drain very rapidly during the winter will require a lot of water to maintain during dryer months, so water sourcing and availability at the derelict Almondsbury site was an important problem to solve.

Site investigations confirmed an abundance of natural ground water, so a water storage reservoir was designed into the scheme. The reservoir is fed via several water sources: new borehole, pitch drainage water and car park surface run off via a petrol/oil interceptor. To provide resilience, water from the reservoir is pumped into a new above ground storage tank, which allows for a new potable mains connection to be used in absolute emergencies.

Bespoke transfer pump systems feeding the reservoir allow the club to have complete control of the water they are taking and ensures that surplus or winter water is allowed to pass back into the natural ditch network running through the site.

Our approach

Detailed project planning and expert site management

The wet nature of the site demanded that earthworks and drainage works were carried out quickly and efficiently, thus protecting working areas and keeping the project on programme.

It was also imperative to create a compound early on in the construction to allow for stockpiling materials, so the car park area was formed in sub-base stone. This was later cleaned off and topped up prior to kerbing and tarmac surfacing.

MJ Abbott then completed the following scope of works:

2 No Fibre Sand Pitches and 1 No Goalkeeping Area

  • Installation of main and lateral pitch drainage, complete with geotextile lining to the sub-base
  • Installation of pitch irrigation systems
  • Installation of 150mm depth of 2-6mm gravel raft, 200mm depth of lower sand and 100mm depth of upper fibre rootzone
  • Installation of nutrient retentive amendments, fertilisers and seeding
  • Installation of ducting, clubhouse and storage tank potable mains water pipework
  • Construction of car park including drainage, gullies and petrol/oil interceptor
  • Installation of chambers, transfer pumps and pipework
  • Construction of fully lined reservoir, featuring underliner drainage, overflow connection to existing ditch, and water transfer system.
  • Installation of ball stop fencing
  • Landscaping and shaping to pitch/building surrounds, preparation and seeding of all landscaped areas.

Following successful completion of works and handover from seed, the client under the expert leadership of head groundsman Daryle Sullivan, grew the pitches in and maintained to achieve match conditions until first usage.


A big step forward for Bristol Rovers

Bristol Rovers moved in to their new training ground in Autumn 2020. As well as the pitches, the new facility features a clubhouse and separate gym building.

Ben Garner, manager at the time of opening, deemed the facility as “the most important step for the club”.

The pitches have been well received by the club. Since completion, MJ Abbott have provided regular support for Daryle Sullivan with irrigation maintenance, pitch renovation and supply of amenity products.

“The relationship formed with Abbotts following their work at the Memorial Stadium, made choosing a suitable contractor for our new training ground all the easier. From day one to completion, the project never stumbled and was delivered on time and within budget. The integrity of their workmanship gave me the confidence that these were going to be good quality pitches, which has been proven.” 

Daryle Sullivan

Head Groundsman