A NORTH-EAST football club is leading the way in using technology to develop the perfect pitch.

Sunderland recently played host to a conference looking at the concept of using ground-breaking technology to stimulate grass growth by using artificial light.

It was attended by several Premiership and Nationwide clubs, including Arsenal, Chel-sea and Ipswich.

The trial is the first time the technology has been tested on a full-scale under UK climatic conditions, and aims to solve the problems associated with poor grass growth experienced in stadia.

It measures the effects of using artificial light to stimulate grass growth in areas of the pitch which are deprived of full light.

The day-long conference on behalf of Stadion Grow Lighting (SGL), the Dutch company involved in the trial, included a technical presentation on the difference the lighting units have made in one of the ground's penalty boxes.

George Daville, group property director at Sunderland, said: "We have now established that the SGL concept is viable, and results on the pitch are clearly evident.

"The quality of the grass in the test area is better than during the summer months and it is full of thick, lush grass.

"We felt that the time was right to share the findings with other clubs and related professionals."