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The Tide was High for England at Donetsk


The England team performed well on the Donetsk pitch against Ukraine and our stadia services team are pleased to report the pitch has performed remarkably well even after waves of water rolled across the turf the week before.

Some say ‘it never rains, it pours’, and the millions of football fans watching the Ukraine v France match would have agreed. The heavens opened and torrential rain poured onto the pitch creating a large volume of water on the surface within a short space of time.

This was a tense time for everyone, including UEFA and match officials, as it was debated whether the match could continue. There was one person, however, at the Donbass Arena who knows the pitch very well and was confident that the match would resume with a little help from the latest technology hiding under the pitch.

Andy Cole, our head of stadia services, commented: “We plan for most eventualities on a pitch and understand how weather can affect the turf, but none of us were expecting such a monumental amount of rain in such a short space of time on Friday.

“I had no doubt we could manage the situation as an ISASS (vacuum) system is installed underneath the pitch at Donetsk alongside extensive drainage systems. This is a new technology which allows us to control pitch temperatures and moisture levels across the pitch.  Excessive water can be quickly drawn downwards, away from the surface, using this system. All we needed to do was use forks and an aerator to allow the water to begin to drain downwards and switch on the ISASS system.”

Within a few minutes the surface water had been removed and UEFA and the referee agreed the pitch was in good enough condition for the game to be resumed. Andy and the grounds team at Donetsk have received praise across the industry for their management of the situation, including a personal thank you from Michel Platini on how they averted a potential crisis.

A lot of work went into preparing the pitch for the all-important England v Ukraine match, as Andy explains: “We knew after experiencing the extreme conditions that the team would have to work around the clock to get the turf back to tournament standards for the game and we were pleased to report the pitch was performing very well”.

When England returned to Donetsk and inspected the playing surface, Roy Hodgson praised the work undertaken on the pitch, adding: “The conditions are OK, and the grounds men have done remarkably well following what happened the other night.”


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