Groundsman in battle to improve pitch

IPSWICH Town head groundsman Alan Ferguson today backed the club's decision not to spend £500,000 on a new pitch.Instead the two-time winner of the Coca-Cola Championship groundsman of the year award is working round the clock to bring Portman Road back to the high standards it is universally recognised for.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town head groundsman Alan Ferguson today backed the club's decision not to spend £500,000 on a new pitch.

Instead the two-time winner of the Coca-Cola Championship groundsman of the year award is working round the clock to bring Portman Road back to the high standards it is universally recognised for.

“If the club were to spend half a million pounds on a new pitch it would affect manager Jim Magilton's budget,” said Ferguson.

“I fully understand the board's standpoint - we are all in it together and two new quality players could be purchased for that sum.”

Remedial work is currently taking place on the main pitch at Portman Road, connecting drains that were laid by Ferguson in 1999.

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“The drains are fine, but they need connecting to the surface again,” explained Ferguson, who was under severe pressure last season when the pitch became so bad that it had to be re-turfed.

“The soil we are working with is not what we would have asked for. There is a metre of clay, and this is what we would have to dig up if we were to install a new pitch.

“If Portman Road was situated in Wales or the West Country we would not be able to survive the amount of rainfall.

“It is because Suffolk is a dry area that we are able to carry on without a major overhaul.”

Half the pitch - on the Britannia Stand side - is currently being worked on, with soil experts liaising with Ferguson and his team over the last three weeks.

The cost of the work is believed to be around £10,000, and it already appears to be working.

“It was the wettest January on record and there were initial problems after our re-turf in the autumn,” said Ferguson. “I am happy with it now, and we currently have a thick layer of grass - with hopes high that Jim Magilton's team will have a perfect pitch to play on in 2007/08.”

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