Australia's Asian Cup pitch for world-class playing surfaces

The 2015 Asian Cup will see $650,000 invested in pitch upgrades across all five Australian host cities in a bid to deliver world-class facilities.

Stadiums at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle are set to enjoy the windfall.

The pitch upgrades will improve the playing surfaces at all 11 training sites for the Asian Cup – two in each host city and an extra one in Sydney for use by referees.

Earmarked works include Newcastle’s No 2 Sports Ground and Wanderers Oval, Brisbane’s Perry Park, S.S.Anderson Oval in Port Melbourne, Deakin Stadium in Canberra and Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval.

Part of the revamp is the major $1.25 million upgrade previously announced at Newcastle’s Asian Cup match venue, Hunter Stadium.

“We have set targets that the experts can measure – things like the firmness of the pitch, the height the ball bounces and the smoothness of the roll,” said Asian Cup Local Organising Committee boss Michael Brown.

The news comes as the LOC and Football Federation Australia host Australia’s first football pitch management conference in Melbourne led by the LOC’s pitch consultants STRI who also advise FIFA and UEFA.

The two-day conference concludes today, with international speakers sharing their experiences from major football tournaments including the 2010 and 2014 world cups, the 2012 UEFA European Championships and the 2012 London Olympics.

Brown said: “These developments are an important part of the legacy the Asian Cup will leave for Australian football and have focussed on venues that will be used by football into the future.

“They demonstrate how committed we are to delivering pitches of the highest standard possible for Asia’s biggest football tournament, an event that will be televised to some 800 million people.

“The decision by the LOC and FFA to invest in Australia’s first pitch management conference is an indication of the importance football places on high quality pitches.”

The 16 nations to qualify for AFC Asian Cup are: hosts Australia, defending champions Japan, Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, along with Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Palestine.

The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day festival of football in five cities which the Socceroos will kick off on January 9, 2015, in Melbourne. The final is set down for Sydney’s Stadium Australia on January 31.

MAIN PIC: Wanderers Oval in Newcastle during last month's FFA Cup match.