ESSMA Pitch Management Workshop, Leicester: The Key Takeaways

The host venue for ESSMA’s two-day Pitch Management Workshop, held May 10 and 11, was Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium. LCFC’s pitch has been the focus of much talk in both the grounds staff sector and wider afield thanks to the hard work and dedication of Grounds Manager, John Ledwidge, and his team, with the team adept at creating visually-stunning patterns on the pitch to showcase not only what they can do, but also to shine a spotlight on the grounds staff industry as a whole.


The ESSMA Pitch Management Workshop was the scene for a UK first, with Ledwidge and his team, together with ESSMA Stadium Partner New Ground Technology (NGT), creating a detailed logo design around the centre-circle at King Power Stadium. Using NGT’s patented ‘Green’ technology, Leicester City’s crest was ‘printed’ on to the pitch by gently bending the turf in opposing directions to create light and dark contrasts using only air.



The comprehensive presentations delivered during the sold-out Workshop detailed all aspects pertaining to pitch management, from pitch renovations, tools and technologies, to player injury/turf injury management, budget control and how to effectively manage and deliver events on your most valuable asset; your turf.



Over the course of the two days, attendees heard from LCFC’s John Ledwidge, Simon Gibson and Callum Allsop, Arsenal FC’s Head Groundsman, Reece Watson, Manchester City Football Club’s Head Groundsman, Lee Jackson and the Institute of Groundsmanship’s (IOG) CEO, Geoff Webb and Head of Member Services, Dan Prest. In addition, STRI’s Head of Sports Surface Design, Richard Gibbs, Terraplas’ Operations Manager, Andrea Fodczuk, and Stade de France’s Head Groundsman, Tony Stones were involved in different panel discussions.


The common threads and key takeaways from the ESSMA Pitch Management Workshop were as follows:


  • Pitch consistency must always be of top priority
  • Invest in your staff that show commitment and a desire to rise through the ranks
  • Ensure your team has the resources they need to meet the expectations of the club and the standards set by the department
  • Meticulously plan and record your day-to-day/weekly/monthly activities but make sure to allow for flexibility to take into account shifts in conditions, etc.
  • Record-keeping is a must; you can only hope to improve year-on-year and maintain consistency if you have all the necessary information. Plus, it’s a warranty requirement
  • Keep your eyes open! Remember that technologies from different sectors can help you and your staff do your jobs more effectively and efficiently
  • Effective communications between not only your team but also other departments and club management is essential
  • When it comes to negotiations: aim big, be patient and concede small. Also ensure to: put yourself in their shoes; detail exactly what you want; why you need it; how much it will cost; and what the benefits will be
  • Prioritise your costs
  • Non-sporting events should be viewed as necessary evils; they mean more money for your coffers and, as long as you plan, prepare and employ the right kind of turf protection, you are on to a win-win
  • And finally, work together to raise standards and the profile of grounds staff  



Presentations of the Pitch Management Workshop are available for all ESSMA Members. Get in touch at to receive your copies. 



If you have any questions about the content discussed during the Workshop, please contact:



The European Stadium & Safety Management Association (ESSMA) will assemble for its European Stadium Tour of Russia this July, 2nd to 5th, during which members will not only get to visit venues in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but also get attend a FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup third place play-off match. During the event, attendees will benefit from behind-the-scenes tours of Spartak Stadium (Otkritie Arena), VTB Arena Park, Luzhniki Stadium, VEB Arena (CSKA Stadium) and Krestovsky Stadium (Saint Petersburg Stadium).




All ESSMA Workshops are put together with the core philosophy of sharing content, organising discussions, introducing new technologies and trends and facilitating networking opportunities among industry peers. Representatives of ESSMA Leagues, Federations, Clubs and Stadiums and ESSMA Stadium Partners and Strategic Partners are brought together for a useful 2-day event.


ESSMA’s next workshop will take participants to London, to both the Emirates and Twickenham Stadium, which will be the hosts for the ESSMA-BASIS Smart & Sustainable Stadium Workshop, being held June 7 and 8. More details can be found online at:  


ESSMA offers a wide range of services to their member base, always striving to bring the best possible value. Go to the ESSMA Services website for more information.



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