Ferguson Calls for Youth Cup Break
Monday, 8th Feb 2010 18:49
Town groundsman Alan Ferguson says he would like to see a winter break for the FA Youth Cup to prevent damage to pitches. Ferguson’s Portman Road surface was less than its usual self when the Blues took on Middlesbrough on Saturday in the wake of last Tuesday’s Youth Cup defeat to Fulham.
Ferguson wrote in his blog for Horticulture Week at the end of last week: “Most groundsmen will tell you that the damage from a kids’ game is much worse than the damage from a first team game. This is because the kids tend to slide in more often.
“We duly picked up quite a bit of damage. It will repair but the pitch won’t be in its usual tip-top condition for Saturday’s home game.
“Clubs like ours enter into the Youth Cup in good faith accepting we will have to play games in and around the first team schedule at a difficult time of the season if drawn at home. This can be problematic and is something I am trying to change.
“I am in favour of the Youth Cup taking a winter break of two months through January and February. This would allow clubs to reduce the usage during the worst period of the year.”
Ferguson says that he is a fan of the Youth Cup but is unhappy that clubs like the Blues’ fourth round opponents Arsenal are allowed to switch their games to smaller grounds such as Barnet’s Underhill: “The Youth Cup has become a sore subject for me in recent years,” admitted the Scot.
“I think the competition is great and offers the young pros a chance to play in the country’s top stadiums.
“At least that’s how it is supposed to be. In recent seasons many of the big clubs have been given permission to play the early rounds away from their main stadium, only playing at home from the quarter-final, the idea being to protect the pitches during the winter.“
Ferguson says the majority of clubs would be in favour of his proposal, which he says is fairer than the current situation: “Such a break should find favour with most clubs and should allow them to play the games at home and not a third party stadium. It would put us on a level playing field.”
Full-back Liam Rosenior says he noticed the change in the condition of the Portman Road surface at the weekend: “Our pitch has been unbelievably good. But on Saturday it was not conducive to good football.
“Our fans were maybe disappointed at the way we played, but it was not easy and I felt sorry for keeper Arran Lee-Barrett every time he had to take a back pass.
“You really had to concentrate on your first touch and a few of my crosses were not to my usual standard. This is something we are going to have to get used to.”
Rosenior, on loan from Reading until the end of the season, says that despite the Blues’ disappointing 2009/10 Town will be contenders next season: “If we stay in this division I wager we'll get promoted next term.
“The foundations are there, and if we win at Queens Park Rangers tomorrow everybody will be back saying how well we're playing.”
Meanwhile, Coventry boss Chris Coleman has escaped a touchline ban but been fined £1,000 after admitting an FA improper conduct charge relating to the comments he made about referee Michael Oliver’s time-keeping after the Blues’ 3-2 victory over the Sky Blues last month.
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