football pitch


Football is not immune to the effects of climate change.

Ian Darler, the seasoned groundsman for League One club Cambridge United, expressed concerns about the impact of climate change on football.

With 45 years of experience, Darler described the past year’s weather as “exceptional” and “scary,” highlighting the significant challenges it has posed.

Heavy rains have made it very difficult to prepare the training pitches for the upcoming season.

He said he had “never been so stressed”.

At 65, Darler noted that he only recently started considering climate change’s effects on his work.

But he said the weather he witnessed over the last two seasons made the issue “a lot more meaningful”.

“It’s a scary situation,” he said.

He joked that complaining about the weather is common among farmers and ground staff.

However, the issue has become increasingly serious.

“The one thing about farmers and groundsmen is you are never happy,” Mr Darler said.

“It’s either too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry.

“But what we have experienced in the last 12 months is just exceptional.

“I have been at the stadium for 45 years. I have never been so stressed in my life.”

A notable incident in February saw a game against Bolton at Cambridge’s Abbey Stadium abandoned after just nine minutes due to a waterlogged pitch.

“At 5:30 the pitch was bone dry,” said Mr Darler.

“Six pm to 6:30 it started raining, 7:30 you could only describe it as tropical rainfall.”

Mr Darler said staff had recently renovated the pitch at Cambridge’s Abbey Stadium.

“On the day after we seeded we had what you would describe as a monsoon,” he said.

“The seed all washed out.”

Despite recent renovations, the Abbey Stadium pitch now has inconsistent grass growth, with areas being too thick or too sparse.

Darler is also working on two of Cambridge’s four training pitches, but persistent heavy rains have set him “weeks behind” in preparations for the new season.




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