Spain: New record! Balaidos replaces turf... 3rd time this season

source:; author: Miguel Ciołczyk Garcia

Spain: New record! Balaidos replaces turf... 3rd time this season Celta Vigo's centenary year has been a string of disappointments for fans. Playing at home, the Celestes have picked up just 10 points in 12 games. The team's play is certainly not helped by the dire state of the pitch, which was destroyed by... Guns n' Roses.


There are reasons to be frustrated

During the lost by 1:2 quarter-final match of Copa del Rey against Real Sociedad, captain and club legend Iago Aspas took a shot that missed the goal by far due to the bad condition of the turf. Watching the club’s last chance to give the fans some joy this season slip away, he shouted towards the club's authorities box F... turf of s...!.

However, Celta’s captain's emotional words expressed the feelings of the players and supporters, as the pitch was in a shameful state for a Primera Division team. The almost total lack of grass in some areas and the unevenness turned the matches at Abanca Balaídos into a festival of mistakes, inaccurate passes and missed shots.

The 'most dangerous band in the world' causes damage

On June 12, 2023, crowds never seen at Celta's matches turned up at Balaidos. As it later turned out, they influenced the pitch. Almost 30,000 people came to witness the Guns n' Roses concert, which, including the opening performance by The Pretenders, lasted over 3.5 hours.

Those 3.5 hours proved to be too much for Balaidos, as the weight of the stage and the trucks that were brought in to assemble it, as well as the audience gathered on the pitch, destroyed the drainage system. Not even the special ground set up to protect the pitch helped. However, makeshift repairs and a turf replacement in July were to save the situation.

Abanca Balaídos© La Cámara del Celta

7 months, 4 pitches and no solution

As the season got underway, it quickly became apparent that these repairs were not enough to keep the pitch in good condition. According to Relevo, the inefficiency of the drainage system, combined with heavy rainfalls in September, created the ideal conditions for the Pyricularia fungus to grow, slowing down grass growth and affecting its maintenance.

As a result, another turf replacement was carried out during the October break. This time, the costs were borne by the company responsible for its maintenance, Royalverd. The new pitch was kept in an acceptable condition until early January, when further problems arose in Celta's 2:1 win against Real Betis.

Prepared for a kind of match-and-rematch clash against Real Sociedad (league and Copa match in three days) in Vigo, the hybrid pitch proved to be a cure worse than the disease. Although it interfered more with the Basques' fondness for offensive play, Celta's players pointed to its poor condition to explain the 0:1 (league) and 1:2 (Copa del Rey) losses.

Abanca Balaídos© La Cámara del Celta

Will they get it right this time?

The third turf of the season has only lasted three games, making 22 days. The fourth was brought from a Portuguese plantation in 19 lorries equipped with coolers to ensure the grass is in the right conditions. The club is presenting it as a 'state-of-the-art' solution, whose biggest advantage is supposed to be easy maintenance.

The new hybrid pitch, similar to the one used in the 2022 Champions League final in Paris, has been ready for a week and will have its baptism of fire on February 17 in a league clash against FC Barcelona. That should give it enough time to grow into the ground and prevent it from wearing out too quickly. The club hopes this will be the last replacement of the season.

Money thrown at the grass

However, everyone in Vigo is aware that, in the most optimistic scenario, the expensive new turf will last until the end of the season, after which it will be dismantled and the entire playing field installation will undergo a major overhaul. According to several sources, Celta plans to move the pitch one metre away from the substitutes' benches to gain space to conduct warm-ups, as well as one metre towards the outermost Gol stand.

According to Faro de Vigo, the three replacements will cost the club a total of around €1.2m for artificial grass strands and €240,000 for natural grass. It remains to be hoped that the rainfall does not once again overload the inefficient drainage system, but given that Galicia is Spain's wettest region, it may well be that before the end of the season the Celestes authorities will break another record for the number of turf replacements per season.

Abanca Balaídos© La Cámara del Celta