Revealed: What it will cost newly-promoted Harrogate Town to replace their synthetic pitch with a grass surface

Work began today (Tuesday) on ripping up the artificial playing surface at Harrogate Town's CNG Stadium.

Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 10:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 10:58 pm
Harrogate Town will play their first few Football League fixtures at Doncaster Rovers' Keepmoat Stadium. Picture: Getty Images

The club's 3G pitch is being replaced with grass after Simon Weaver's men secured promotion to the Football League (EFL) by beating Notts County 3-1 in Sunday's National League play-off final.

Synthetic surfaces are not permitted in League Two or above, and thus Town need to switch back to turf in order to be allowed to compete in the EFL for the first time in their 106-year history.

The process, which will take 10 weeks to complete, is however not a cheap one.

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Work began on replacing the 3G pitch at the CNG Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Harrogate Town

"We are looking at upwards of £200k altogether, it's a complicated job," Town chairman Irving Weaver revealed to the Harrogate Advertiser.

On top of the cost, the time that it will take to finish the work means that Harrogate will be forced to play their first-ever Football League fixtures away from Wetherby Road

"It's a 10-week process, there's no getting away from that, so it'll be October 10 before we can play at home again," added Weaver, who has agreed a temporary ground-share with League One Doncaster Rovers.

"I don't think it should end up being too disruptive, depending on how the fixtures fall. I think that we are probably looking at three games at Doncaster, and although that's a shame for the supporters, we don't even know if crowds will be allowed inside grounds by that point.

"We couldn't do anything about the situation with the global pandemic from March onward. Obviously, we had to wait to find out if we got promoted before we could act and I feel we're maximising the amount that we can get done by starting the work almost immediately after the play-off final."

Weaver went on to reveal that he brokered the deal to play at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium - should the need arise - some time ago.

"We had to get that agreement in place a while ago to give us time to send off for approval from the Football League," he said.

"The approach to Doncaster was very straightforward. It was just a phonecall to one of my pals from my twenties. There was no hesitation at their end, they were happy to help us out.

"We've played there before in the past when we were having issues with our drainage and I think there is a good link to Harrogate, it's just up the A1.

"I think it's the best solution. We couldn't have gone to York, for example, because of the situation with their new stadium.

"Trying to share with a club outside of the EFL would have been problematic due to the fact that there would be two different governing bodies involved and it's so much more straightforward just having one to organise the fixtures to ensure that there is no clash."

Playing at the Keepmoat is nothing new for Harrogate, who were given permission to use the stadium during the 2012/13 season.

Weaver's good relationship with Rovers stems from his long-standing friendship with Donny owner Terry Brammall.