Pitch under scrutiny at Portman Road

IPSWICH Town's Portman Road pitch is today still suffering the effects of the summer salt water flooding it suffered during the summer.The condition of the pitch - normally one of the best in England - was a key talking point among the Sky Sports team who covered the Ipswich/Luton game on Sunday.

IPSWICH Town's Portman Road pitch is today still suffering the effects of the summer salt water flooding it suffered during the summer.

The condition of the pitch - normally one of the best in England - was a key talking point among the Sky Sports team who covered the Ipswich/Luton game on Sunday.

Today Town officials admitted that it was still giving the groundstaff headaches and experts were convinced that the problems all stem from the summer flooding.

As revealed by The Evening Star in August, problems with the pitch first arose during the summer and tests revealed the soil had been contaminated by high levels of salt.


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It was thought this could have been caused by flooding during the summer when heavy rain overwhelmed the pumping station in Sir Alf Ramsey way and caused water to rise over the weir which separates the fresh water River Gipping and the salt water River Orwell.

Ipswich Town spokesman Terry Baxter said today that the pitch, which has earned chief groundsman Alan Ferguson many awards in the past, had still not recovered from the problems this summer.

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He said: “It is a very slow business to repair damage like this to the pitch. We have had many experts come and look at it. We had some consultants in only on Saturday.

“We relayed the pitch immediately after the Chilli Peppers' concert at the start of July and of course that month was very hot and wet, not ideal for new grass to develop.”

The dry July was followed by a very wet August, just as the new football season started. Since then the weather has been warmer than expected and the tent which protects the pitch from frost has not been used so far this season

Mr Baxter said: “We shall use the tent when it is appropriate, but at present the kind of weather we are having is good to dry out the pitch and get some sun on to it.

“The back of the North Stand can be opened which allows the air to circulate as well.”

If nothing can be done to improve the pitch during the winter, it might have to be relayed again in the summer although this should not affect the club's ability to stage big concerts.

At present it is hoping to stage two big events at Portman Road next summer but negotiations are still at an early stage and no announcement is expected for several weeks.

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