Aldershot Town will be bringing a piece of the Champions League to the ESS Stadium next season – in the shape of Chelsea’s prized pitch.
The Stamford Bridge club have gifted the Shots their current playing surface at the end of the season with work due to start at the end of May.
The Blues’ chief executive, Ron Gourlay, confirmed that with a new pitch of their own arriving this summer, the arrangement would enable Chelsea's Youth and Under 21 teams, as well as Aldershot Town’s first team, to benefit from a playing surface of the very highest quality – the very one that staged a Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
Groundsman and former player, Andy Nunn, told Get Hampshire: “It’s a massive step forward for the club and the community as a whole.
“Our current pitch was beginning to experience problems underneath with drainage so Chelsea came in with their generous gift at just the right time really.
“It’s a brand new, fibre-sand pitch with drainage and sprinkler system installed, which won’t cut up as much as the current pitch and, fingers crossed, we shouldn’t have any more games postponed due to waterlogging.”
Chairman Shahid Azeem expressed his delight at the gift, saying: “Once again the directors of Chelsea have shown incredible generosity.
"Many international players have graced this superb pitch and now we look forward to hosting Chelsea’s stars of the future on it at Aldershot next season.”
As a result, Shots fans can now buy their own piece of what is already one of the best pitches in the lower leagues.
For a minimum donation of £1, supporters can purchase one square metre of the ESS turf, with all proceeds donated to the Mayor of Rushmoor’s three nominated charities, Royal British Legion, Parkside Day Centre and Frimley Park Hospital Breast Cancer Appeal.
Orders, which will come with a certificate of authenticity, can be made now by contacting the club on 01252 320211 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Pieces will be available for collection after Tuesday May 6.