Lights, camera, millions of pounds worth of changes for Premier League Leeds United as they follow in Sheffield United footsteps

Leeds United have work to do and significant money to spend on and off the pitch in order to be Premier League ready by September 12.

Friday, 7th August 2020, 5:54 am
CHANGES - Elland Road will undergo construction to satisfy the needs of the top flight, which are largely dictated by broadcasters. Pic: Getty

Any club freshly promoted to the top flight is faced with the same challenge, especially those for whom the EFL has been home for a lengthy period.

Leeds, missing from action for 16 years, have managed to earn promotion in an unprecedented period of time for football.

Their Championship season ended three months later than scheduled, on July 22 and their Premier League campaign will begin on September 12.

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That gave Leeds just seven and a half weeks to turn what was admittedly a big club for the second tier into a top tier outfit from top to bottom.

The saving grace, perhaps, is that they have had plenty of time to get their head around what is required to be a Premier League club.

In 2019 it looked like it was happening until all of a sudden it wasn’t.

Sheffield United were contenders for promotion at the same time and when it came to the crunch, were able to walk through the exit door, while Leeds were unable to follow.

ALL OF THE LIGHTS - Leeds United's floodlights will need upgrading for Premier League broadcast requirements. Pic: GETTY

But midway through the season, with promotion a possibility for both clubs, plans had to be drawn up and Premier League delegations made visits to inspect the existing infrastructure and explain what was required.

Much of what needs to happen to a stadium, like Bramall Lane or Elland Road, revolves around satisfying the requirements of broadcasters.

Hardwiring is put in place so the cameras can simply be rolled in and plugged in.

Floodlighting has to be upgraded so the images picked up by cameras for broadcast and for video technology are high quality and high definition.

And the media areas, like the gantry, press box and facilities within the stadium that are used to film interviews and press conferences, need to be updated.

There is a certain quota of commentary positions that needs to be met for UK and international broadcasters and they all need access to replays, so Elland Road’s press box will undergo a complete renovation.

The upgrades run into millions of pounds, but it’s a non-negotiable spend because the broadcasters are the very people who stump up the money from which Leeds will earn something in the region of £100m, through the Premier League TV deal.

Recently promoted clubs have to spend between five and £10m to get up to spec’ and meet the paymasters’ standards.

You spend money to make much, much more money.

You have to work for it though – Sheffield United’s media team doubled because their media commitments trebled.

Broadcast interviews aren’t so much requests to be considered, but often they are contractual obligations that must be met, before games, after games and during the week.

Leeds have had a taste of that in the Championship, but not to the same relentless degree that flavours life at the top table.

For the Blades, as soon as promotion was secured on April 28 2019, they could press the button, welcome in the contractors and begin work on the necessary improvements.

Leeds have simply had to keep their plans in a drawer for a year, but the difference between their situation and Sheffield United’s is that they don’t have a three-month summer to complete the work. The Premier League won’t comment on whether or not the new boys will be given special dispensation, but say they are working with the Championship leavers on the process of getting up to scratch.

Leeds, who played football worthy of the top flight under Marcelo Bielsa last season, will not change their style now, but some of the faces will change.

When it came to on-field changes, Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder wanted and got top-end Championship players he felt capable of making the step up and, if the worst came to pass, capable of challenging straight away at the top end of the second tier.

Seventeenth would have been respectable. They finished ninth.

Leeds’ thinking in the recruitment department is along very similar lines and while Andrea Radrizzani says he just wants his club to stay in the Premier League, he and Bielsa will want to cut it with the big boys as well as the Blades.

A Premier League club is under construction.