Pride of Suffolk at Portman Road

By David VincentTHE new “instant pitch” being laid at Ipswich Town could be a sign of things to come for the top clubs in the UK.Rather than seeding and then growing it within the Portman Road stadium, it has been fed and watered on a remote site.

By David Vincent

THE new “instant pitch” being laid at Ipswich Town could be a sign of things to come for the top clubs in the UK.

Rather than seeding and then growing it within the Portman Road stadium, it has been fed and watered on a remote site.

This week it is being transplanted ready for Town's pre-season friendlies and a new Championship season.


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Weather and soil conditions in Suffolk are ideal for growing turf - a second pitch is already being grown near Woodbridge for Scottish champions Glasgow Rangers.

A military-style operation continued at Portman Road yesterday as the new pitch was laid with less than a week to go until the visit of Glasgow Rangers in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday.

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Teams from Support in Sport UK Ltd removed the 15-metre rolls of grass on pallets from lorries, then transported them on to the pitch to be installed in an operation reminiscent of putting down rolls of carpet.

Then the key will be plenty of watering, as well as the sun, to give the new playing surface a flying start.

Turf for football and other sports is usually grown in the North of England, but George Mullan, managing director of Support in Sport, said it had teamed up with local company Sovereign Turf to grow it in Suffolk.

“We had Cranfield University do a study and they found it was ideal to grow turf in this part of the country. You have got ideal weather conditions too,” he said.

The seed was sown 14 months ago, but Mr Mullan said transporting the turf could become a problem.

“It can take 24 hours and turf gets stressed in weather conditions like this and goes black,” he said.

But he was pleased with the Ipswich operation. “It is going fine. We have 8,500 square metres of turf to put down,” he added.

“We put down 2,500 square metres yesterday and will probably put down another 4,500 today. You want to get it down and perky and looking good.”

Mr Mullan said it was now looking to supply the UK market with turf grown in East Anglia.

“We are talking to Glasgow, to Hampden Park, to Celtic, Sunderland and Newcastle. We won't do the first pitch at the new Wembley Stadium, but it would be a longer-term target,” he said.

david.vincent@eadt.co.uk

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