Brighton & Hove Albion head groundsman Steve Winterburn has welcomed a period of 21 days without a match at the Amex, after a gruelling festive period, and says he and his team face a busy few weeks in restoring a pitch which has suffered during the first part of the winter.
Winterburn and his team had to contend with very heavy rainfall throughout December, plus a very busy schedule of matches, which has included two additional football fixtures (one of which was a mandated U21 cup match that had to be played at the club's main stadium), but he is confident that the pitch will be vastly improved before Huddersfield Town visit the Amex on Saturday 23rd January.
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He told seagulls.co.uk, "It has been a particularly tough period through December, mainly due to the heavy rainfall, which not only affects the ongoing condition of the surface, but also really hampers the grounds team's ability to get out and work on the pitch. It's the same at a lot of clubs up and down the country, with a lot of pitches taking a battering, and some have been affected much worse than ourselves.
"We've also had to contend with a few extra games, but realistically it is more down to the adverse weather, which is really making it difficult,and the fact that it’s often coincided with the matches being played. We had the two rugby matches in September - which were a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the stadium and the city - and the pitch was able to recover very well from those games. Even compared with last season we have only played a couple of additional fixtures, when you consider the various fixtures we played at the Amex during the same period in 2014/15.
"The grounds team spent a lot of time over the Christmas period working hard on the pitch, and were able to get it into better shape for the Ipswich match, but the impact of two games in the space of four more wet days meant it was looking worse for wear by the end of the Wolves game, as indeed did all of the pitches featured in the live TV games over this past weekend, all of which were played in or around heavy rain showers.
"The good thing is we have some time now to work on improving the surface. The club has invested in the pitch and the grounds equipment here at the stadium, not to mention the training ground, and we will be using that and working around the clock to get the pitch into the best possible condition for the Huddersfield match later this month."