MILLWALL are investing heavily in the pitches at The Den and the club's training ground ahead of the new season.
Head groundsman Dave Bradbury-Shaw has been given around £200,000 to spend to ensure the Lions' playing surfaces are better than ever before.
Much of the bill will be footed by director Trevor Keyse, who has taken a keen interest in maintenance issues during his seven years at the club.
Keyse has worked closely with Bradbury-Shaw, who has been tending to Millwall’s pitches since 2000, to deliver improvements each year.
"When I first went down to the training ground the state of the pitches was appalling," Keyse said.
"Whether I pay for it or the club does, a budget is now agreed every year and if other bits and pieces need to be done as well, I just get on and do it.
"Two years ago we dug up The Den and put down a new fibre-sand pitch but as the seasons go by, people's expectations of the pitch are going up all the time. Now expectations are very, very high.
"Most Championship clubs have got a minimum of a fibre-sand pitch but the likes of QPR, who we played at the end of the last season, have what's called a Desso pitch and that can cost over £1million to install.
"The quality of our pitch is especially important given the way Ian Holloway wants to play – it's vital we get the best surface we can.
"As a board, we're spending more and more money each year on the pitches but I also have my own ideas about what needs to be done, so I go ahead and help the groundsman however I can."
And Bradbury-Shaw is determined to meet Holloway's expectations for the pitch at The Den.
"At the stadium, http://vhealthportal.com/product-category/pain-relief/ we've had a lot of the existing fibre-sand taken out and replaced at a massive cost," the groundsman said.
"We're using grow-sheets for the first time this year and that stops the birds from pecking the seed. It also ensures you get an even grass coverage. We'll be turning on the lighting rids soon.
"Ollie knows that we won't have a Desso pitch but he's expecting a better surface than last season.
"We've got seven staff at the moment but we're looking at employing an eighth and we're looking at using new fertilisers.
"We're going all-out to see if with the new fibre-sand, extra manpower and new machinery we can make a difference. But a lot depends on the weather!"
Bradbury-Shaw and his team have also been working hard at the training ground, where work is being carried out on all four pitches.
"Pitches one and two were closed before the end of last season with the manager’s blessing," he said.
"The contractors have come in and we're using a soil-sand mix on those pitches and the top soil has been removed to freshen it all up.
"When the team comes back for pre-season, the pitches will be ready.
"Pitch three was our worst pitch because it hasn't been level, but Trevor has invested yet again and we've had it levelled and it will be flatter than it has been. That cost a fortune."
Keyse plans to maintain his investment in the club's pitches and will start planning for 2015-16 before the end of the year.
"Ollie is striving for better pitches every season," the Lions director added.
"Next year, depending on where we are, we may consider upgrading the pitch again, which would be a fibre-elastic pitch. That would cost a lot of money."