The recent positive results in Premium Liiga are boosting optimism in the city of Jõhvi about permanence of the club in the top flight.
With 10 points collected in the last 8 games (they were only 5 up to matchday 23…), Loko have the concrete chance to access the Premium Liiga play-off against the Esiliiga second best.
In fact, during the last weekend, they beat and overtook Kalev in the table, clinching the 9th spot that seemed a ‘mission impossible’ up to few months ago.
However, the main worry for another (?) Premium Liiga season, it will be the pitch at Jõhvi City Stadium, always in pitiful conditions as seen from several match broadcast during the season.
Loko took the initiative to go and listen what the local government has in mind for improving the football facilities of the 10,000-inhabitant town. A project that, according to the club, was promised to be started before the Autumn.
Loko was initially playing their first games in the football pitch of a local school (Athme Gymansium - picture above right) and then moved to the grass-pitch of the municipal stadium.
The conditions of the grass in the city stadium have always been borderline with the average standards.
The Estonian FA allowed Loko to hold their games there until the Autumn. The Eastern Estonia club will receive Infonet and Tammeka for the last two home fixtures (18th and 25th of October) when, hopefully, the temperature will not go below zero.
‘Loko is fighting for the future of football in Jõhvi’ wrote Loko’s member of board, Sergei Ivanov, on his facebook page, reprising the news of the board meeting with the local government representatives.
A cry for help about the Jõhvi Stadium pitch conditions was already launched back in March when the season had just kicked off (check story here).
However, it seems that to date, no action was taken.
The city council plans are ambitious: not only replacing the grass pitch with an artificial one, but also renovating the surrounding facilities. None of the previous was even started.
At this point, the club only hopes for the city council to guarantee the maintenance of the existing grass pitch. Meanwhile ‘we are happy to listen to this story for 20 years’ added ironically Ivanov about the council's plans.
‘The renovation of the main pitch is the priority’ said Ivanov, acknowledging that refurbishing the surface will be too expensive (as talked back in March, 15,000€ are needed).
Lokomotiv Jõhvi can retain their place in Premium Liiga if they keep the 9th spot and will win the double tie of the play-off.
At the moment, their opponents shall be JK Tulevik, a club from Southern-Estonia town of Viljandi. With play-off games going into November, it will be quite unlikely for Loko to hold them in the City Stadium and they will have to relocate back to the school artificial pitch.