TOWN groundsman Marcus Cassidy insists the County Ground pitch could stand up to hosting rugby - but only with substantial increased investment.

Cassidy, an employee of Sports Turf, has experience of football and rugby sharing a home at both the Causeway Stadium and Vicarage Road and insists a marriage of codes does not automatically ruin the surface.

He has though revealed for the last five years Town's pitch investment has been significantly underfunded and knows unless more money is pumped in this summer the extra wear and tear could prove disastrous.

Cassidy blames the already woeful state of the playing surface on previous manager Paul Sturrock's regime but, with chairman Andrew Fitton pledging his commitment to improving the pitch, he insists there are ways to make a ground share work.

He said: "We do work at both Wycombe and Watford and they share with rugby clubs but it does still work. To be fair Wycombe's pitch has not been great this season but that is because it has been battered.

"They play reserve games there as well and that is a no-no really because of the amount of games they already have on it.

"But yes it can work. It would get wear and tear but I am sure we could keep that to the minimum as long as we were given the funding needed to do what was necessary.

"Someone in the club told me our budget over the last five years has been half that of the previous five years. It used to be £80,000 now it is half that and that is very difficult to keep the pitch in order."

Manager Maurice Malpas has been just one of a number of people to stress the need in an improvement to the County Ground turf - but Cassidy insists the blame lies with his predecessor.

"The pitch has actually been improved," he said. "The only reason it is bad this year is because Paul Sturrock trained on it every week. That obviously isolates certain areas, rather than in a game where you use the whole pitch.

"We do need a bigger budget to get the pitch back into shape but if the investment is put in, yes we could handle rugby as well."