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Grounds Management Association Respond to Community Concerns

by TurfCareBlog

Grounds Management Association Respond to Community Concerns, is a response direct from the Grounds Management Association on a blog we did recently on key concerns we collectively have on the some key issues in the industry (link to that blog is at the bottom of this blog)

Q1. With the expired deadline of changing from red to white diesel, why is the GMA still fighting for exemption well past the deadline. When Bigga secured this well before the deadline with ease?

 Geoff Webb, CEO at Grounds Management Association: 

“HMRC’s Reform of red diesel and other rebated fuels entitlement Policy paper published in November 2021 made clear that there would not be a withdrawal of an entitlement to use red diesel in sport. Despite the GMA meeting all deadlines for the consultation and providing clear evidence of the impact on the industry and sport at all levels, we were disappointed to find that this commitment had not been reflected in the published guidance.  

“All turf surfaced sports grounds, including but not limited to horse racing and golf courses, football, rugby and cricket pitches, bowling greens and tennis courts, should all fall within the exemption criteria; as they are all sports. The GMA has raised this issue with officials at DEFRA, HMRC and HM Treasury, and we will continue to do so until the guidance is rectified. We understand and indeed share the frustrations of those working in the wider sports turf sector.” 


Q2. With pay and conditions seemly at an all-time low what is the GMA strategy going forward? 

Jason Booth, Chief Operating Officer at Grounds Management Association: 

“Industry Workforce Development is a key strategic pillar sitting at the heart of the GMA’s new Five-Year Strategy; which will soon be shared with members and industry colleagues.  

“We have undertaken research for many years on behalf of our sector, this includes the Sport’s Vital Profession report published in 2019, and the Back to Play white paper published last year. We will shortly be publishing findings from our latest survey that will reveal the impact of the pandemic and identify the issues we face now and in the future. 

“The GMA has an important role to play in helping to attract and develop new talent. By better promoting and further professionalising the skills and expertise of grounds people, we are working hard to ensure the sector gets the recognition it deserves. Communications will be key to getting the messages out there, so we are investing heavily in enhancing our internal capabilities to support delivery of our strategy and achieve better outcomes for the sector.” 

Q3. Why does the GMA continue to advertise jobs on the website below their recommended pay scales? Not doing so may not change clubs’ behavior but surely it sends out the wrong message to its members.

Sarah Cunningham, Director of Commercial and Events at Grounds Management Association: 

“The GMA jobs board provides a valuable service to those looking for jobs in the sector and to those with vacancies to fill. Advertisers use multiple platforms when promoting their vacancies and we are proud to offer the GMA jobs board as an important part of that mix.  

“Unfortunately, it is not possible to enforce individual remuneration packages, this will always remain a decision for the employer. We do, however, publish an independently commissioned annual National Salary Framework, which provides the industry with a set of recommended minimum basic national salary levels. These guidelines are sent to all advertisers and we highlight them to those who advertise salaries that fall below the recommendations.  

“We do not recommend a maximum level of remuneration as salaries can vary widely across different types of organisations. A grassroots club, an educational establishment, and a premier league football club, for example, are all likely to offer very different remuneration packages. GMA members can access the full report via their online member portal.” 

Q4. Greenkeepers can request a special license to use insecticide. Is the GMA fighting for the Groundsperson so they can also use this product when there are no others apart from nematodes options, which provide very limited control? 

Chris Gray, Technical & Learning Programme Architect at Grounds Management Association: 

“The environmental and ecological benefits of switching from toxic chemicals to more sustainable solutions are clear and as an industry we acknowledge that we need to do things differently to move away from our historic reliance on insecticides.   

“The GMA continues to work with the Amenity Forum and together, we hope that through increased education, innovation, and knowledge-sharing, we can support practitioners with the necessary information and training that will help to improve cultural practices to tackle problems with minimal use of chemicals.” 

worm casts

Q5. Worm casts are a major issue for a grounds person with clay within their soils. Cultural methods have very limited success, is this something the GMA are working on to help us find solutions? 

Jason Booth, Chief Operations Officer at Grounds Management Association:

“The GMA appreciates that worm activity/casting is more of an issue in some sports more than others and can cause issues around playability and aesthetically. 

“There are currently some environmentally friendly products out there and we are likely to see more come to market as manufacturers further invest in developing greener, more sustainable solutions and the GMA will support and assist in any research and development where appropriate and applicable. 

“The GMA advocates the use of more environmentally friendly solutions and offers advice and guidance to members looking for ways to tackle the issue, which becomes notably more problematic in warm and moist weather conditions. 

“For winter sports in particular, improving drainage and sandy top dressings to create a drier surface makes it easier to drag brush and regular raking and switching in winter really helps. Although, in wet areas where casts never dry enough to be easily raked out this can also be difficult.  

“As well as the usual good practices of drag brushing, we also recommend boxing off clippings, keeping thatch levels low or removed, avoiding neutral reacting fertilisers, and using acidifying fertilisers and top dressings which are more acidic than neutral. Regular verticutting and raking as soon as the soil dries in spring helps break up old casts and should be done before any mowing to avoid smearing the casts before they are broken up.  

“Members can visit the GMA website to ‘Ask the Expert’ should they have any technical questions.” 

Written by the GMA.

Questions above inspired by this recent blog l wrong called, a turf care community’s need to be heard – https://turfcareblog.com/a-turf-care-communitys-need-to-be-heard/

I know as a working groundsperson, managing some of the above culturally is a big challenge, maybe impossible challenge especially for those on limited or stretched resources, so in some ways my concerns are still there. However l do appreciate the GMA communicating in answering these very direct questions, which was encouraging.


Any thoughts, just pop them in the comment box below this blog.

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Kevin nichols May 27, 2022 - 12:08 pm

What a load of twodle excecstives of the gma speak .

TurfCareBlog May 27, 2022 - 12:28 pm

Great to have a opinion Kevin, but l would say maybe be more specific with your comments. I have put my concerns re managing grubs and worms culturally as a massive challenge which the GMA comments don’t quite meet.

Gordon Gill May 27, 2022 - 9:36 pm

Nice to know they replied. But, are they operating in and targeting the real world?
Salaries really should accompany job adverts, no salary no advert, end of. Problem is the GMA make shed loads of money out of advertising.
Worm control, what planet are they on? Box off clippings???? How many councils and everyday rec clubs are ever going to have the ability to box off? Who is going to pay the skip charges to take them off site? How environmentally friendly is that? Let alone costly. Returned clippings is the cheapest most environmentally friendly solution to grass cutting.
Many council pitches are now cut with Trimax, Wessex or Major bat wing rotary mowers, no collection facility available.
I bought a tractor mounted brush for our worm riddled outfield. All it did was smear the casts and subsequently suffer reduced grass cover. How can you ever brush worm casts from a cricket square? Chemicals that worked have been banned, only found one alternative that works. All other treatments I have found useless, expensive and a waste of time. Keep garlic for cooking.
Use more acidic top dressings and fertilisers, most cricket loam that I am aware of comes with a high ph and most ferts that I use have an iron content already, does absolutely nothing to deter the worms.
GMA should be fighting for a chemical solution that works.

Brian Sandalls May 28, 2022 - 4:33 am

Can’t argue with most of what you say Gordon tbh . Managing these things culturally sadly just is not possible for most budgets and even test match grounds struggle with that . I understand we need to be more sustainable as well, so a balance is needed but certainly less options available for a groundsperson over a Greenkeeper at present and feel we need more help.


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