Town’s clash with Hull remains in doubt as Blues work to guarantee supporters’ safety during big freeze
PUBLISHED: 17:42 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:20 01 March 2018
Ipswich Town officials will meet on Friday morning to discuss Saturday’s home clash with Hull City, which is under threat due to the snow and cold weather that has hit the town this week.
The club has vowed to do all it can to ensure the game goes ahead, both in regard to maintaining the Portman Road pitch and ensuring the stadium and surrounding areas are safe for supporters.
The playing surface has been covered since Monday afternoon, with the layer of heavy snow removed and placed in the lower tiers of the stadium to enable the pitch covers to be raised and hot air blowers to be deployed.
Further bouts of heavy snow, which are forecast between now and Saturday, will mean the covers must be lowered given they are not able to take the weight of the snow. The club are confident, though, that the playing surface will be ready for 3pm on Saturday,
A major concern is the safety of supporters and staff, both in the stadium and the areas leading up to Portman Road, with serious concerns given there is no significant raise in termperature forecast.
Inside the stadium, the big freeze has caused concerns as well with some toilets in the Sir Bobby Robson Stand frozen, with the club’s stadium manager Greg Pillinger insisting the game will be called off unless safety can be assured.
“There are doubts over the game going ahead as we stand at the moment,” he said.
“The safety of the supporters is priority and if we can’t guarantee that with the conditions, then the game can’t go ahead.
“All the concourses and seating needs to be safe for the public to view the match along with the perimeter of the stadium and routes to and from bus stops, car parks and the railway station. This has involved consultation with the local authorities.
“Likewise the police and the Highways Authority have been consulted for their views on the major road networks leading to and from Portman Road.
“Importantly our own matchday staff, both stewards, catering and corporate all need to be able to get to the stadium safely and in the correct numbers, in particular the stewards to ensure we meet the minimum numbers to adhere to the safety certificate.
“So there is much more to it than getting the pitch playable but we are doing all we can to get the game on.”
The players have trained as normal ahead of the game, with defender Adam Webster insisting he and his team-mates want to play despite the weather.
“Definitely, we all want the game to be on so we’re preparing right, just like we always do,” the defender said.
“It’s just another game so we don’t have to change anything, although there might be a few more long-sleeved shirts out.
“It hasn’t disrupted things too much but obviously it isn’t ideal.
“Everyone enjoys it for the first day and then you just want it to go away, but hopefully it can settle down a bit.
“It hasn’t stopped our preparations at all and we’ll prepare in exactly the same way so it shouldn’t stop us.
“We had three games in six days last week so obviously we needed a little bit of time to recover from that, but everything’s been fine since.”