Full Elland Road pitch reconstruction in Leeds United's 'master plan' says chief executive
A full reconstruction of the Elland Road pitch is part of Leeds United's plan to become a 'Premier League ready' club.
Chief executive Angus Kinnear has commended the work of club staff to ensure head coach Marcelo Bielsa has playing surfaces at the stadium and the Thorp Arch training ground fit for his brand of football.
But he admits they are working at a disadvantage to their Premier League counterparts.
"Head of operations Mark Broadley, head groundsman Kiel Barrett and their team work expertly and relentlessly in ensuring that Thorp Arch and Elland Road are up to a standard suitable to facilitate Marcelo's free-flowing style," he said in his programme notes for today's clash with Reading.
"In an age where Premier League pitches are lavished with millions of pounds of technological enhancement, Kiel's skills are even more impressive because he is producing an equivalent surface with few of those advantages."
Kinnear revealed that experts had recommended the installation of a new playing surface at Elland Road in 2013, believing the pitch was five years past its best, and it's something the club are planning as part of their attempts to overhaul the infrastructure.
"Earlier this season Mark brought me a letter from a turf consultancy firm recommending a comprehensive overhaul of the playing surface, based on their assessment that the pitch was five years beyond its replacement date," said Kinnear.
"I judged that five years was an acceptable margin for error and that the pitch still looked like it had a good few years in it yet. It was only then that he pointed out the letter was from 2013.
"Needless to say a full pitch reconstruction is in our overall master plan, but the situation is illustrative of how many structural areas have fallen behind in our 16-year absence from the top flight and how many challenges we have faced since the start of Andrea's tenure to get the club marching in the right direction.
"However, step by step we are returning the club's infrastructure to a state of 'Premier League ready.'"
Bielsa recently gave his backing to the professionalism and work ethic of the ground staff at Elland Road and Thorp Arch.
"I have direct relationship with Mark Broadley, also with Stefan Shaw, who take care of the pitch here and less relationship with Kiel Barrett who looks after Elland Road pitch," he said.
"Our pitch, as every pitch in England, is not the same level in winter as summer. I'm not going to qualify the state of the pitch, if it’s good or bad, everyone realises. I cannot say if the pitch is good if it’s not, or if it’s bad if it’s good because everyone sees it. What I can say is the quality of work Stefan and John do here, also I am sure Kiel Barrett works with the same professionalism because Mark Broadley, who co-ordinates this, is a serious person, very professional and taking care always of the club.
"I am saying the club does the maximum to put the best condition, the best they can. We are really grateful for the work Kiel, Stefan and John so. I am not talking about the pitch because everybody can see that when the team plays. It’s not correct I am talking about something everyone can see, but we have to recognise all the efforts our colleagues do."