1 Poor pitches cost UK sports millions

Poor pitches cost UK sports industry £600-800 million a year

By Mike Saull

Even before adding in the costs of litigation resulting from injuries, the UK sports industry is losing around £600-800 million every year as a result of poor playability or postponements. That's the view of the countries largest independent sports soils design consultancy, TurfTrax, which has joined forces with the Football Foundation and a number of other major funding bodies in an attempt to halt the decline in pitch quality.

According to the company's technical director, Richard Earl too many reconstruction or pitch drainage projects are still failing because of price pressure. "The problem stems from the fact that everyone has a little bit of turf in their back garden which survives quite nicely given a weekly trim and an annual dose of fertiliser.

As a result, professional turf managers have to work hard to convince their bosses to provide them with a sensible renovation and remediation budget. At the same time, the sports enthusiast now expects his or her own pitches or golf greens to be of similar standard to those seen on TV. All this does is create a public desire for perfect pitches, but leave the turf manager with insufficient investment leading to sports surface failures. Even where financial reserves are found, failure to get to the root of any turf problem, cutting corners during the specification or construction phase, or inadequate aftercare, often render any remedial work a waste of time. Nine times out of ten this is not the fault of the contractor, most of whom offer a professional installation service, it is simply based on a reluctance from the buyer to spend time and money properly assessing the problem and then designing the optimum solution.

How many potential David Beckham's and Johnny Wilkinson's are we losing, or putting off every year as a result of niggling injuries caused on poor park pitches?" asks Dr Earl.

In order to ensure the industry is kept abreast of the latest turf remediation developments and knows where to turn for support, TurfTrax is hosting a series of local workshops over the next two months, starting at Twickenham on Jan 27th. The full daytime or condensed evening workshops will demonstrate why surfaces fail, why incorrectly designed remedies can end up costing you more, and detail how to recognise the causes of problems commonly associated with sports grounds and pitches.

For further information on the course contents and booking details please contact Sarah Mason on 01234 821750, email turftrax@turftrax.co.uk or book on-line at http://www.turftrax.co.uk/workshop04.htm

TurfTrax - Pitch Problem Workshops:-

27th January 2004

Twickenham RFU

29th January 2004

Wolverhampton Racecourse

3rd February 2004

Haydock Park Racecourse

5th February 2004

Newcastle Racecourse

10th February 2004

Charlton Athletic Football Club

12th February 2004

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

The price to attend is £75.00 + VAT (£88.13 inc VAT) for a daytime workshop (09.00-17.30) and £35.00 + VAT (£41.13 inc VAT) for an evening workshop (18.00-20.30).

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