Football League gives backing to Groundsmen
The Football League is to contact all 92 professional clubs in the Premier and Nationwide Leagues to emphasise the need for them to adhere to any instructions by club Groundsmen regarding 'no go' areas for warming up.
In addition the FL have given their support to a change to the Laws of the Game which would permit additional markings on the penalty area and goal area.
The response from the FL is very positive, and comes as a result of Groundsmen having the courage to make their views known. More than 50% of the country's top professional football Groundsmen took part in a recent Pitchcare survey on pitches and the main causes of damage to them.
Overwhelmingly, the chief issues concerning Groundsmen were intensive pre match warm ups and the unauthorised markings in the penalty area made by goalkeepers. To their credit, the FL have addressed both these issues.
Understandably, the FL have expressed the view that players and officials need to follow warm up procedures prior to starting the game and, in the absence of any other areas, the pitch is the obvious place. It is a view which all Groundsmen would accept.
However, the FL is clear in their support of coning off areas of the pitch for warm ups and, more importantly, in the right of Groundsmen to report clubs which choose to ignore these areas or whose length or intensity of warm up gives cause for concern.
In other words, Groundsmen have the full backing of the FL to take all reasonable steps to protect their own pitch against clubs or individuals who, in their opinion, unnecessarily and intentionally cause damage.
To further emphasise their support, the FL will be reminding all match officials about their responsibilities in respect of additional markings in the penalty area by goalkeepers.
The FL does not have the authority to make changes to the Laws of the Game, but they will be writing to the Football Association asking for their support in respect of a proposal which would permit additional marking on the penalty and goal areas. Almost 100% of the Groundsmen who took part in the survey were in favour of this change.
Other than stipulating time limits for warm ups and giving Groundsmen authority to ban them in certain circumstances, the FL have taken on board all the suggestions put to them. It is a very encouraging response and a sign that the views of Groundsmen are taken seriously by the people in authority.
The FL are to be congratulated and thanked for the steps they are taking.
The full response from the FL is detailed below:-
I refer to your correspondence of 21st October and 24th November and following a recent meeting of the Playing Surfaces Committee am able to respond as follows:
In your letter of 21st October you asked if we could consider the following:
· Provide guidelines to clubs on the length and intensity of their pre-match warm ups.
· Give authority to the groundsman to ban or restrict warm ups in inclement weather if, in his opinion, they are likely to cause severe damage to the pitch.
· Instruct referees to ensure that goalkeepers do not make any unauthorised markings in the penalty area and, if necessary, caution the offender.
· Allow additional markings on the centre of the goal area and penalty area to assist goalkeepers with their positioning.
Members of the Playing Surfaces committee were unanimous in their view that:
· Players and match officials need to follow warm up procedures prior to starting the game. In the absence of any properly prepared indoor warm up areas, the pitch is the most obvious place for this activity to take place. Should a groundsman have concerns about any particular area of the pitch he should cone off the area and make it clear that, prior to kick off, this was a no go area. Any concerns about the length or intensity of a warm up should be addressed in the first instance to his Club Secretary or Chief Executive.
· As above - we should not expect players or match officials to commence a game before being properly prepared. Serious injuries can occur if a thorough warm up is not undertaken.
· Through the Board of the PGMO (Professional Game Match Officials) I will remind all match officials about their responsibilities in respect of additional markings.
· Through the Playing Surfaces Committee it is planned to write to all 92 clubs expressing the concerns of groundsmen, both with additional markings made by goalkeepers and the need to adhere to 'no go' areas when warming up.
· Again through PGMO I will write to the referees Committee of The Football Association asking for their support in respect of a proposal to the International Board for a change to Law One which would permit additional marking on the penalty area and goal area.
I hope this is helpful.
National Group Manager for the Playing Surfaces Committee