Braintree Town hope weather is kind ahead of Tranmere clash

BRAINTREE TOWN chairman Lee Harding believes the weather is the only thing than can jeopardise Iron’s mouth-watering FA Cup clash with League One leaders, Tranmere, on Sunday.

Iron are set to host the Birkenhead side at The Amlin Stadium and will pocket around �75,000 at least from gate receipts and the game being chosen for TV coverage.

An extra �18,000 prize money will be available for manager Alan Devonshire’s playing budget, should Town progress, and while the club’s coffers are set for a sizeable boost whetever, the Iron chief is desperate to play the game on Sunday.

Last Saturday’s Blue Square Bet Premier clash with Wrexham was called off with just over an hour to go before kick-off, due to two sudden downpours, and the club is receiving help from the FA in an attempt to halt any possibility of that happening again.

“Things are coming together but the one variable is the pitch,” said Harding.

“It was in perfect condition before a freak downpour at 11.30am last Saturday in which an inch of rain fell.

“After the groundstaff got the sponges out to soak up the water, another downpour took place at 1.30pm and we were the only postponement in the division.

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“We have had an enormous amount of help from the FA in terms of covering the pitch and they work with a company that specialises in such matters.

“We are mindful that we don’t want the game called off again that is of most concern to us.”

Saturday’s postponement, while disappointing – and a blow to Wrexham’s travelling faithful – may have proved to be a blessing disguise for Iron boss Alan Devonshire.

“We were disappointed that the game was called off but it has given the lads, carrying one or two knocks, time to get themselves prepared,” he said.

“Bradley Quinton and Sam Habergham were almost fully-fit going into the Wrexham game, but they should now be 110 per cent fit which is a big bonus.”

Former Long Melford chairman Harding is hoping for a crowd of 2,000-plus for Sunday’s game, despite Tranmere expected to bring fewer fans than they would have done for a Saturday clash, thanks in part to the 12.30pm kick-off time.

However, he admitted that Sunday’s clash will emphasise Iron’s need to move to a new stadium.

The club is hoping to have moved to a new stadium at Panfield Lane, by 2016.

“One of the big challenges is trying to stage an FA Cup tie at our current location as there is only one road in and one road out,” explained Harding.

“Everyone accepts it is time to move to a new ground like many other teams have.

“Colchester out-grew Layer Road and moved to the Weston Homes Community Stadium and our current location causes lots of headaches due to parking restrictions.”

Should Iron go through against Tranmere on Sunday, that will earn the club a place in the second round draw, due to take place immediately after the game.

“The majority of the money from TV and gate recipts will be re-invested into the club to cover the cost of ground improvements,” said Harding.

“The prize-money is not money that we budgeted for so that will go in full to Alan (Devonshire’s) playing budget.”

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