Valley Parade, Bradford

David Markhamin Football

Bradford City

Bradford City's groundstaff face a busy and difficult few days to have the Valley Parade pitch ready for live televised matches this weekend.

Bradford Bulls Rugby League club is jointly using the football ground until a major redevelopment of the Bulls' Odsal ground in another part of the city is completed in two years time.

The Bulls play Leeds Rhinos in the Rugby League Challenge Cup on Saturday, the match being shown live on BBC1 Grandstand programme at 3pm.

Then, on Sunday, Bradford City will play Birmingham City in a First Division match at 6.15pm, the match being shown live on ITV Digital.

The problems for the groundstaff have been made worse by the recent wet weather.

Bradford City played Sunderland in an FA Premier Reserve League match on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the rain poured down throughout the match.

Stadium manager Allan Gilliver said: "The pitch has taken a lot of getting back together after the reserve match because the drainage system is not as it should be.

"We had the pitch vertidrained ten days ago. If we had not done that we would have struggled to stage Tuesday's reserve match against Sunderland.

"The amount of water that has come down in the last week or so has been abnormal.

"It rained throughout last Tuesday's match and the area near the touchline is like a paddy field. That is where the linesman has been running up and down the pitch.

"We cannot roll the pitch because we want to let it dry before we can put the roller on.

"The biggest problem we face is getting the pitch and the ground ready between Saturday afternoon when the Rugby League match finishes and Sunday evening for the start of the football match. If the weather is wet it will be an even bigger problem.

"Because the Rugby League season stretches throughout the summer, we don't have a close season because we have matches on the pitch all the year around.

"All we can do in the summer is a bit of top dressing, filling-in holes and some re-seeding.

"We have got to keep verti-draining to give us a chance of playing. By verti-draining we keep the pitch aerated, but it does tend to make the ground soft.

"Unfortunately, we cannot put the sand in the holes after the vertidraining. We have to leave them open.

"We hope to get a light roller on to the pitch on Thursday. It is all about presentation, especially with Saturday's Rugby League match being on TV. I don't want to put a heavy roller on it.

"Then, after the rugby match, from 6pm, we have got to turn things around for Bradford City's home match the next day.

"Obviously, we will change the posts and put the divots back and then leave the rolling until the next morning.

"With Bradford Bulls sharing our ground we have to cater for about 90 matches, Bradford City first team and reserves, Bradford Bulls first team plus various cup matches and an England under-21 international against Italy next month. It leaves us with a busy schedule."

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