Workmen have begun laying the artificial pitch at Saracen’s new stadium in preparation for the club’s first matches there in the new year.

The first pieces of the synthetic surface were put down at Allianz Park yesterday and the job is expected to take several days.

Sarries are the first top-tier club in the country to install an artificial grass pitch at their stadium and the team will give it its first outing during an LV Cup match on January 27.

The plastic pitch will save the club thousands of pounds, with annual maintenance costing around £15,000 compared with £100,000-a-year for a grass surface.

The club says it is also hoping to open the pitch to community sports teams and charities.

Finishing touches are being made to the former Copthall Stadium, which will host its first Aviva Premiership game on February 16.