Grass Pitches

Grass Pitches

FA Grass Pitch Improvement Programme

MAINTAINING THE TRUE GrassROOTS OF FOOTBALL

Improving Essex Surfaces So You Can Enjoy the Game

In the annual Grassroots Football Survey, our stakeholders regularly highlight the need to focus on the quality of playing surfaces if we are to continue to develop players and ensure the game remains enjoyable to all. It is for these reasons that grass pitch improvement is one of the key performance targets in the FA National Game Strategy and our own 2018-21 'Moving Forward' Strategy.

The FA Facilities & Investment Team have been working in partnership with the Grounds Management Association (GMA) to develop a Grass Pitch Improvement and Maintenance Programme which can be utilised by grassroots football clubs, organisations and local authorities, with the simple aim of improving the quality of grass pitches.

The key principles behind the service are to provide members of the programme with advice and practical solutions via a Grass Pitch Assessment Report (GPAR) which will also identify the key enhanced maintenance works required, along with any machinery requirements.

If a site is categorised as 'Poor' or 'Basic' on the grassroots pitch quality framework, they are then potentially eligible to apply for grass pitch revenue funding through the Football Foundation. This is a game-changing opportunity and, for the first time ever, sites can get access to the funding they need in order to improve their pitches.

The new funding package window opened on the 5th December 2019 and, thus far, ten clubs in Essex (as of May 2020) have been successful in obtaining over £500,000 investment into grass football pitches across the county. This opens up the opportunity for pitch operators to invest in enhanced maintenance services over a ten-year period, or capital machinery grants up 75% of the total cost.

We’ve joined with The FA and the Grounds Maintenance Association (GMA, formerly the Institute of Groundsmanship) to develop a grass pitch maintenance service which can be utilised by our clubs and their facility providers, with the simple aim of improving the quality of grass pitches.

The key principles behind the programme are to provide clubs and their pitch providers, with expert advice and practical solutions for developing and maintaining their grass pitches, and improving playing surfaces across the county.

The current economic climate, growing pressures on our clubs and your feedback clearly demonstrate the need to focus on the quality of playing surfaces if we are to continue to develop players and ensure the game remains affordable to all. It is for these reasons that grass pitch improvement is one of the key performance targets in our 2018-21 ‘Moving Forward’ Strategy.

Working with our GMA Regional Pitch Advisor, the programme will consist of the following two main areas:

Pitch Assessment Visits & Reports

We will carry out site visits and offer practical and realistic advice on pitch maintenance, based on a club’s budget, level of expertise, access to equipment and the time available.

Every participant will receive a summary report containing recommendations on how to progress the site’s maintenance programme, as well as a twelve-month follow-up visit to monitor progress and identify the next steps.

Visits are available to Essex County FA-identified clubs who own their own site or are responsible for pitch maintenance, and their pitch providers and can be requested via the ‘PIP Visit Request Expression of Interest’ Form. The cost of the visit, report and follow-up is £100.

Funding Guidance

Pitch Assessment Visit reports may, where recommended, identify areas of need for further investment, such as machinery or drainage. Where this is the case, we will support you to use the report as the basis for funding applications to bodies such as the Football Foundation. 

In November 2019, the Football Foundation launched a pilot fund which aimed to support clubs and leagues who play an active role in maintaining grass pitches. If you would like more information on any aspect of the Pitch Improvement Programme please contact us.

Find Out More

If you believe your site would benefit from becoming part of the FA Grass Pitch Improvement Programme, the documents below is your next step.

The 'Grass Pitch Improvement Programme Information Sheet' document will take you through, step by step, what is required. The 'PIP Visit Request Expression of Interest' document needs to be completed and sent to nick.emery@essexfa.com.

FA Grass Pitch Improvement Programme