The latest on Sheffield Wednesday’s frozen Hillsborough pitch – Freezing temperatures, undersoil heating and postponements

Amid some of the coldest weather in more than two decades, Sheffield Wednesday were forced to postpone their game against Swansea City – here’s what we know so far.

By Joe Crann
Sunday, 14th February 2021, 12:00 pm

The Owls were due to take on the Swans at Hillsborough yesterday as they sought to extend their winning streak at S6, however the match referee decided on Friday that the field would not be safe to play on.

Plenty of questions have been asked since the decision to call off the game, but The Star has been told that the club’s ground staff had done all they possibly could to try and make sure the game went ahead.

It is understood that water froze beneath the surface of the field following torrential rain ahead of the 2-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers, and that it was thanks to the club’s staff that they were able to play that encounter.

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But the blizzard that night, followed by temperatures of -6 in Hillsborough, caused real problems for the field.

The pitch actually began to freeze in the second half of the Wycombe game, followed by plummeting temperatures into the night.

On top of the weather, which would have caused problems regardless, Wednesday have not been helped by the fact that the primary heating system boiler that powers the undersoil heating setup presented a serious issue last month, and while they’re in the course of sorting it out, it’s not been an easy process.

Sheffield Wednesday's pitch is being worked on by the club's ground staff. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

The club are currently working on resolving the issue with a complete replacement, but have been told that it could take up to 19 weeks to sort due to the fact that given its sheer size it needs to be purpose built with custom electronics before a further installation process - with the big project gaining more complications given that some parts need importing from overseas in the midst of a pandemic.

There were continued attempts to resolve the situation with external contractors in order to cause the least amount of disruption, but those efforts came to nought as it became apparent that a replacement would need to be built from scratch.

Wednesday did use pitch covers and would ideally have liked to make a decision closer to the time of the game, but with Swansea facing a long trip from Wales and there being little likelihood of it thawing in time, an early call was made on Friday. Such were the freezing temperatures, even with a fully operational system the game would still have been in jeopardy.

In normal circumstances, the club would have had Hillsborough’s pitch relayed in the summer, but with less than eight weeks between their final home game of 2019/20 and first game of 2020/21, there was no time to do so.

Wednesday’s ground staff are now doing what they can to make sure that the field is ready for next week’s visit of Birmingham City, but they’ll be hoping that the weather takes a turn for the better to give them a helping hand

A number of other games in the UK were called off due to inclement weather this weekend, with Rotherham United v Queens Park Rangers as well as several matches in League One being forced into postponements.

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