Rodney Parade: Newport County boss questions ground's value for money

A groundsman battles with standing water on the Rodney Parade pitch in Newport
A rugby match between Newport Gwent Dragons and Ospreys went ahead on New Year's Day despite heavy conditions

Newport County manager Graham Westley has questioned whether the club is getting value for money from its leasing deal at Rodney Parade.

County are tenants at the ground which is also used by rugby teams Newport Gwent Dragons and Newport RFC.

Three football matches have been postponed or abandoned this season and a Football League investigation is reported to have found the current situation unsustainable.

"The pitch is a disgrace," he said.

"It's not a pitch which should be a venue for the Football League.

"For me, if it was a contract that I'd negotiated - and I haven't seen the contract - I'd be asking some serious questions whether the investment has gone in and whether we are getting value for money."

The ground is owned by Rodney Parade Limited, who in 2013 agreed a 10-year lease for the football club to use the ground.

Newport Gwent Dragons coach Kingsley Jones is not concerned about the surface from a rugby playing point of view.

He said: "The pitch was excellent against Enisei (on January 13). It's not perfect, we know that and it's a heavy work-load. But it was a real fast track."

Newport County manager Graham Westley
Graham Westley was appointed manager of Newport County in October 2016

The state of the pitch after heavy rain has been a long-running concern for Newport County though, with previous Exiles manager John Sheridan criticising the club's ground staff when an FA Cup third-round tie against Blackburn was postponed.

This season, two games - against Morecambe and Barnet - were abandoned at half-time and a match against Stevenage was postponed on 1 October.

Westley continued: "If you're our football club and you're saying 'you've accepted a contract to enable us to play Football League games on your pitch' - have you really put the investment in to put this pitch in order?

"'Is this pitch really being looked after in a way that is deserving of you accepting money from us to play Football League matches on it?'

"The guys at the top of the club who negotiated that arrangement, I'm sure they're feeling let down.

"I'm sure they're feeling that things aren't in order but I'm sure equally they're trying to reach a solution."

Newport County are bottom of League Two and Westley believes the state of the pitch is hindering the club's battle to avoid the drop.

"As a football manager you have to try and construct a game of football from the dinosaur age," he said.

"That's no good to you as a coach, you can't show what you can do. You just have to construct a rugby game, for a rugby pitch and do the best that you can do.

"We can't even train there so it's not as if we can get used to the surface or make real use of home advantage."

Rodney Parade Limited has declined to comment.

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