TOP football referee Howard Webb was the man on the spot to open St Ives’ new state-of-the-art artificial pitch.

TOP football referee Howard Webb was the man on the spot to open St Ives’ new state-of-the-art artificial pitch.

The country’s top official, who refereed last year’s World Cup and Champions League finals, cut the ribbon and kicked off the action at the £1.3million development at the town’s One Leisure centre.

The 3G pitch and changing facilities has been part-funded by a £500,000 grant from the Football Foundation, and will ensure that teams playing at the centre have the latest and safest artificial pitch technology under their studs.

An outdoor floodlit football pitch, four new team changing rooms, separate disabled and referee changing facilities and 70 new parking spaces have been included in the project.

The 3G synthetic surface can be configured to accommodate a one full-size, three seven-a-side or four mini-soccer pitches.

The new facility is expected to help increase participation by up to 30 per cent at the complex, in particular junior and female participation.

Simon Bell, One Leisure general manager, said: “One Leisure St Ives already offers a wide range of excellent sports facilities but the creation of the new pitch and additional changing rooms will enable us to attract even more soccer teams and groups, especially juniors, throughout the year.”

• Pictured above from left are One Leisure manager Simon Bell, Huntingdonshire District Councillor Tom Sanderson, Howard Webb, HDC leader Jason Ablewhite, CEO of the Football Foundation Paul Thorogood, and Alan Poulain of Hunts FA.