St Helens Council has announced that Saints will begin their preparation for the upcoming season by playing a friendly fixture at the council-managed Ruskin Sports Village next weekend.
At the end of the 2017 season, the pitch at Totally Wicked Stadium was relaid but in order for it to be in the best possible condition for the season ahead, will not be ready for use in time for next Saturday’s (January 20) tie against Championship side, Sheffield Eagles.
Saints approached the local authority for assistance to fulfil this fixture and it has now been agreed that the match will take place on Ruskin’s RFL certified artificial turf Rugby League pitch, which has already seen plenty of high-performance action in the last 12-months, including Challenge Cup ties and Saints reserves games.
In accepting the match, which has moved from a 3:00pm kick off to a 3:30pm kick off, and due to the number of fixtures already at Ruskin Drive that day, the Council and the club have agreed that the game will be ticket only and no tickets will be available for sale on the day.
The capacity for the game will also be set at 450 – and at present that capacity has been reached.
St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, Councillor Sue Murphy said: “Saints are synonymous with the town, so as soon as the call came to request assistance, we were all too happy to help by offering our state of the art Ruskin Sports Village.
“When we took the decision to improve the facilities at Ruskin Drive, the idea was to create a complex that had the capacity to cater for both grass route sports and higher level performers, so to host the famous Saints will be an honour and a privilege.”
As well as the Saints vs Sheffield Eagles fixture, there will also be a number of community football and rugby union matches taking place at Ruskin Sporks Village that day which will not be affected.
Provision has been made for players and officials linked to these games to park, and spaces will be available for spectators to park their vehicles on the site’s two car parks which combined have spaces for 500 vehicles.
Saints CEO Mike Rush said: “We’ve invested a significant amount in a new pitch at the Totally Wicked Stadium ahead of the new campaign – but with three games scheduled in short space of time we contacted the council to see if we could move the game in order to protect the pitch.
“They agreed to this and we thank them and Sheffield Eagles for their assistance and the fans for their understanding.
“However, because of the capacity it is highly unlikely, at this stage, that any further tickets will be made available.”
The club has already sold its capacity.
Saints Head Coach Justin Holbrook has indicated that it will be a predominately young squad that faces the Eagles, with some experienced players added.
It will also feature several top age Academy players.
Those who have already bought tickets and intend on watching the game at Ruskin can pop into the Ticket Office for a refund, from Monday, of half the amount paid on your tickets. You must bring in your ticket as proof of purchase.
If you now cannot or do not wish to attend the fixture, and you have a ticket, they will offer you a full refund.
Please note Ruskin Drive is a standing only facility and the car park is only available to those that have bought tickets – where space allows.
You will be asked to show your ticket on entry.
They ask that disabled supporters who have bought tickets to contact our Ground Safety team on 01744 455 050.