Portman Road pitch can take a stud!

IPSWICH TOWN: What a difference a stud makes.

No damage whatsoever has been done to the Portman Road pitch by the two Suffolk FA cup competition finals that have been played at the ground this month.

This is because players are told that they cannot wear bladed studs.

They must use conventional studs, and Alan Ferguson, who is Ipswich Town’s head groundsman, says what a difference it makes.

“I’m delighted that we can offer our ground up to local footballers,” said Ferguson.

“And I’m delighted that no pitch damage is done during their games.

“The difference to the state of the pitch after a Championship match when players are using blades is astounding.”

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Martin Head, who is chief executive of Suffolk FA and the man behind the move to play the finals of the three major county cup competitions at Portman Road, confirmed that players who turn up for a final with the wrong boots will not be allowed to play.

“We emphasise to the clubs involved that we will not allow bladed studs,” said Head.

“It is one of the conditions that led to us playing our three biggest finals at Portman Road – and we are adamant that we will maintain our agreement to that.”

The Suffolk Premier Cup final between Ipswich Town and Needham Market takes place on Monday night with Bacton already beating Sudbury Athletic in the Junior Cup and Team Bury beating Capel Plough in the Senior Cup.

While the Wembley Stadium pitch continues to receive criticism and is about to be re-laid yet again, Portman Road is in as good a shape as it has been for some while.

“For grass to grow you need natural sunlight and air movement,” said Ferguson.

“I’m very happy with how Portman Road has stood up to the rigours of a very cold and often wet winter.”

Ferguson is happy to work around the Pink concert being held on June 28, but is pleased there will be no further impediments to preparing an ideal playing surface next season.

He went on: “We will start major renovating work on May 8 and have until May 13 to complete.

“The same tried and trusted safeguards will be taken to protect the pitch at the concert, and then we’ll have four weeks and three days to put the finishing touches before the next kick-off.

“There will inevitably be some damage and I’m pleased these no second concert.

“But we can cope after doing a thorough cleaning up and soil exchange exercise early next month.”

Award-winning groundsman Ferguson added: “I think we’re doing well and have been getting positive feedbacks from opposition players and managers.

“There are financial restrictions to what we can achieve, but we are providing a pitch that is the envy of most.”

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