Concert-free summer will benefit Blues

IPSWICH Town will reap the benefit of not staging a concert at Portman Road this summer.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town will reap the benefit of not staging a concert at Portman Road this summer.

So says head groundsman Alan Ferguson, who predicts the playing surface will be as strong next season as at any time over the last decade.

And he is confident that it will help Roy Keane's side pass the ball around and play entertaining and enterprising football.

“It has been a huge benefit to be working on the pitch since corporate games ended on May 20,” said Ferguson. “The club may have lost revenue from not staging a concert but they could gain from a successful 2009/10 season.

“From a selfish point of view it has been a great help to me for the second year running.

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“We have done a great deal of work over the last two years and the pitch is as strong as it has been since I've been here. It was in December 2006 that we re-turfed and we haven't looked back since.

“There is now a strong root mass, and Roy Keane and his side should have as good a pitch as anyone else in the Championship.”

A combination of the hottest spell for 100 years, a concert and problems with piping that led to some toxic issues in the summer of 2006 proved troublesome for Ferguson, who has three full-time assistants plus two seasonal staff at this time of year.

“It was catastrophic,” Ferguson admitted. “Now that is behind us and we are gaining from purchasing our own equipment during our last Premier League days.

“Because of this we have flexibility to do work when it needs to be done and not wait for contractors to become available.

“We have 'cleaned out' the main pitch with power equipment and, with the best growing weather still to come, the grass should strengthen even further.”

Ferguson also oversees 11 grass pitches at the club's Playford Road training ground and says that six will be ready for pre-season training when Keane's players return on July 2.

Four are currently being worked on and one is still being used by players who are already at the club and involved in rehabilitation after injury.

A big Rangers fan, Ferguson says that he fears for his favourites with ex-Town skipper Tony Mowbray now the new Celtic manager.

“I have a great deal of time for Tony and am sure he will do well at Parkhead,” said Ferguson.

“And his coach Peter Grant is Celtic through and through and will relish being back at the club.”