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A moment to sit and think

Chelsea play twice a week for much of the season. On Thursday we took part in the Europa League, than fewer than 70 hours later we faced Fulham in the Premier League.

The games are coming thick and fast, with a trip to Wolves next on the agenda. It's not unusual for the Blues to compete on four different fronts simultaneously.

In contrast, most college American football teams have only six home contests all year. Just how important each one is hit home at the weekend as I watched Alabama, the top-ranked university in the USA.

There had been half-an-inch of rain in Tuscaloosa the day before their match against local rivals Auburn. They were worried the grass in their stadium would still be wet at kick-off, so you know what they did? They brought in two helicopters to hover over the field to dry it out.

A pair of choppers swooped in and side-by-side, a few feet above the ground, inched their way up and down the length of the pitch. I don’t know how effective the rotors were at removing the moisture, but it was an extraordinary sight.

We Chelsea fans of course will always associate helicopters with the awful crash in which Matthew Harding lost his life, while just weeks ago Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabhan also died in a similar way, moments after taking off from a football field.

When I saw the footage from Alabama, I thought that they would never allow it in England. Those two tragedies scarred the football community, and even if this was the best scientific method to dry out a pitch, I doubt any English club would sanction it. But here in the States their version of football does not bear the same scar.

After criticism about the cost of the venture, school officials said the vehicles and the pilots’ time had both been donated. But even if they had paid for it I’m sure they would consider it money well spent.

The Bryant-Denny Stadium holds more than 100,000 spectators and tickets for the Iron Bowl (as it is known in the South) go for hundreds of dollars. The event generates millions of dollars for the college, and that’s without considering the fee received for the national TV broadcast and the financial boom to the surrounding area.

Was it an unorthodox solution or a foolhardy risk? Out-of-the-box problem solving or a crazy stunt? Whatever your opinion, I don't see it happening at Stamford Bridge, no matter how much rain falls on SW6.

By Stephen Rea, Blogger from America

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