Leeds United find £300k short term solution to Elland Road pitch problems ahead of Everton visit
Leeds United have found a short-term solution for their Elland Road pitch issue with the installation of a £300k hybrid surface similar to the one used by Tottenham Hotspur
A pitch that has long been in need of a full reconstruction and issues with the 'ancient' drainage system caused problems for the Whites and visitors Brighton on Saturday, with players losing their footing and the surface cutting up beneath them. The heavy pitch slowed intended passes, which is less than ideal for Marcelo Bielsa's team and their quick, intense style of football.
The short pre-season left Leeds in the lurch when it came to their plans for the pitch and the recent weather has necessitated a mid-season intervention. Consultation between the board and playing staff has led to the removal of the top surface, which will be replaced by the kind of hybrid turf system used by Spurs.
'HTPro' is a hybrid carpet reinforced turf system, produced as a partnership between Tillers Turf and Hewitt Sportsturf, who say the surface is an 'extreme high quality cultivated carpet-based turf, nursery grown on specially prepared nursery field plots designed to provide the best growing conditions.'
A window of opportunity opened up this week with the postponement of their midweek fixture against Southampton and the lack of game this weekend. The next Premier League action at Elland Road will come in just under a fortnight with the visit of Everton..
Leeds United head of facilities Mark Broadley said: “We have been working closely with Hewitt Sportsturf on a proposal to fully reconstruct the Elland Road pitch this summer.
“However, after the recent heavy rainfall and snow in Leeds, it became evident that the current system was unable to cope and as a result was struggling to retain sufficient stability in the top surface.
“We reviewed all options available and agreed the best possible solution was to remove the top surface and install the hybrid turf system HTPro as seen at Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City.”
The current pitch will be removed over the weekend and the new surface will be laid by early next week.
A full revamp, including a state-of-the-art drainage system, with a cost that runs into the millions, will begin in May and could take up to 14 weeks.
"We had intended to do this last summer but the process takes 14 weeks and so simply couldn't be executed in a close season so dramatically shortened by the pandemic," said chief executive Angus Kinnear.
"The current Elland Road surface received justifiable criticism last year as the ancient drainage system was unable to deal with the torrential rain we experienced across December."
Kinnear was keen to stress the quality of the work done in difficult circumstances by Elland Road groundstaff.
"The criticism should not be levelled at our head groundsman Kiel or his excellent staff," he said.
"They are managing a pitch which is 25 years old and suffering from decades of under-investment.
"The fact that the pitch is even playable is a testament to Kiel's skills and should win him a Groundsman of the Year award. Everyone at the club knows that with the right investment Kiel and his team will make the Elland Road surface the best in the country."