Harrogate Town still have time to replace artificial pitch if promotion dream is realised

Harrogate Town do not foresee any issues with their pitch preventing them from securing a place in the Football League (EFL).

Monday, 8th June 2020, 9:15 am
Updated Monday, 8th June 2020, 9:18 am
Harrogate Town were second in the National League standings, just four points behind leaders Barrow, when 2019/20 was abandoned. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Second in the National League standings when 2019/20 was abandoned due to the coronavirus crisis, Simon Weaver’s team still harbour hopes of playing their football in England’s fourth tier next term.

The Wetherby Road outfit should have a better idea of where they stand in the next 48 hours, with EFL clubs due to meet on Tuesday to vote on how to conclude the Championship, League One and League Two seasons.

At this stage, it is expected that two National League clubs will be promoted into League Two for 2020/21, whether it be by holding play-offs or deciding the final league standings on a points-per-game basis.

Should Harrogate win the play-offs or end up being deemed ‘runners-up’, then they would not currently be able to go up due to the playing surface at their CNG Stadium base being artificial.

The club would have to revert to a grass pitch, something that they are ready and waiting to do should the need arise, but the clock is ticking.

With the National League waiting on the EFL to act before it decides how to determine its own issues of promotion and relegation, it could conceivably be approaching mid-June by the time Town have confirmation that they do indeed need to replace their 3G surface.

Boss Weaver is, however, insisting that there is no cause for panic at this stage.

“We are hoping for some communication from the National League and/or the Football League very soon,” he said.

“For the time being, we’re keeping it [the 3G], because we wouldn’t want to be excluded from playing in the play-offs, if they take place, because we’ve ripped our pitch up.

“That would be our worst nightmare, to have done so well this season, then spent all this time waiting, to find out the play-offs are going ahead but we can’t participate.

“At the same time, we are wary of getting to a stage where the EFL can turn around and say that the time for us re-laying a grass pitch has passed.

“Our position is that we are ready and prepared to do whatever it takes with the pitch, we just need that communication.”

Meanwhile, work is progressing on Town’s new Family Stand, an 880-seat structure that will bring the CNG Stadium in line with EFL ground regulations.

“The stand is really coming on. It’s going to look sensational once finished,” Weaver added.

“We just need the opportunity to be able to fill it.”