Pitching In: How St. George’s Park’s grounds team maintain our pitches

Thursday 03 Aug 2023
Grass pitch renovations are staggered throughout the year
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For football fans, there are fewer things more visually pleasing than the sight of a pristine football pitch. It’s luscious green colouring, meticulous cut and precise fresh, white markings are one of the simplest, yet rewarding, sights and experiences for anyone watching or playing a game of football. 

At St. George’s Park, we pride ourselves on the incredible high standards of our 14 pitches; each of which provide that exact experience for every visitor. That’s not something that’s taken lightly, with the maintenance of our playing surfaces overseen by our Head of Grounds and Estates, Andy Gray. 

With the season now upon us, the past few months has enabled Andy and his team of 19 staff to carry out important work on the site’s playing surfaces, ready for teams visiting for pre-season training.

In the second part of our interview with Andy, he explains the work that goes in to renovating all 10 of the grass playing surfaces over the course of the year.

When is the large-scale work carried out on the pitches at St. George’s Park?
Our annual end-of-season renovations result in every single grass pitch undergoing a complete renovation. That consists of stripping off the surface and, depending on the pitch, anywhere between 90 and 120 tonnes of sand will go back on. We then aerate it, work that in, overseed it with about 50g per square metre and grow it from then.

How long does the work take renovating a single playing surface?
We like to give ourselves seven weeks to grow it back before its played on. 99% of the time, it’s ready after six weeks, but we factor in an extra week in case of bad weather and other things just to give us a bit of a buffer. The way that the schedules work here enables us to do that. Aside from the senior teams and the Under-23s, any other visitor or development team can easily be allocated to another pitch if we’re working on their originally-assigned pitch. 

Does the work differ depending on the pitch?
There is the same level of renovation carried out on every one of our pitches. Certain pitches have more use than others, which means when we start work on them, they’re a bit thinner, but maintenance-wise, the process stays the same. There’s a period of around two weeks in May where we may be down to two pitches.

How are the end-of-season renovations structured schedule-wise?
Each section of the site has different uses. The front is mainly utilised by Burton Albion, and they utilise the standard football calendar. We’ll start work on those pitches as soon as they finish, around mid-May. We stagger the middle pitches throughout the course of the summer, so there’s always two of them available. The back pitches, which are the ones usually utilised for pre season teams, are usually worked on from the end of March and back in play for the end of May. 

St. George’s Park’s playing surfaces are available to any sports team or organisation wishing to utilise them all year round. To enquire about hiring a pitch, please call +44 (0)1283 576200 or email us at sgpenquiries@thefa.com


By FA Staff