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Making Sport Possible Vs Council Contractor

by TurfCareBlog

Making Sport Possible Vs Council Contractor, is a blog based on one clubs experience and frustrations towards poor workmanship there cricket square has received, during a recent and very late renovations. You can see by the images and description of works below the contractors had little experience or care for what they where doing, sadly this is NOT an isolated case.

The GMA have a campaign with the slogan, Making Sport Possible but as this blog details this club and many others through the country are receiving such poor renovation it’s fundamentally going against maintaining safe playing surfaces and growing the game. The ECB also have had a campaign called, Get the Game On but you can see by these stories some clubs are really up against it, despite there best efforts.

Our Story

Through the ‘The Cricket Groundsperson’ Facebook group we see many great examples of individuals who with experience, hard work and dedication have their cricket squares looking immaculate. 

Unfortunately, “it’s not always greener on the other side” with an increasing number of Clubs reliant on the Local Councils maintaining pitches (not always by choice) and having the thankless task of trying to get their contractors to prepare pitches to an acceptable standard. 

Whilst our Club is fortunate to have a group of members looking after our main square. Our second square (used by the 3rd and 4th XI as well as some junior matches)

Surface Preparation for Renovations

Although the Council have been very supportive in making the case for investment into a new artificial pitch and undertaking koroing to the square, when it comes to making the case for maintaining the cricket square to an acceptable standard, we face major obstacles.  

The Council representatives and their contractors have little experience or knowledge in maintaining cricket squares or preparing wickets which unfortunately results in the deterioration of the playing surfaces. Specifications prepared by the Council are based on cost rather than what is deemed to be fit for purpose and have no outputs or references to the standard to be achieved. It’s therefore no surprise that contractors cut corners to save money. 

The Council representatives and their contractors have little experience or knowledge in maintaining cricket squares or preparing wickets which unfortunately results in the deterioration of the playing surfaces

Contractors Putting Football ahead of Vital Cricket Renovation Works

We understand that Councils (and Clubs) are all facing challenging times and that difficult decisions have to be made when making the case for expenditure.  However, it’s so frustrating that Councils appear reluctant to manage contracts or ask the contractors for programmes for undertaking work.

Our last game of cricket was 3 September but as we enter November, we are still waiting for the end of season renovations to be completed.  Contractors’ operatives advise us that although football takes preference at this time of the year the square was cut and scarified about 4 weeks ago oblivious to the fact that the grass has grown and any drills disappeared! 

During the last week I have visited our second ground twice and found some progress…..

  • Bags of rubbish and half a bag of soil left on the edge of the square 
  • The square not roped off with football studs present and people walking across with their dogs  
  • ’Clods’ of soil remain on the square & artificial
  • Only limited areas have been spread with soil (poorly)
  • Only limited areas have been seeded (by hand)
  • No scarification drills to receive seed
  • Grass is too long and unsuitable for end of season renovations
  • The lack of suitable equipment/materials being used to undertake the work

The quality of work by the councils’ contractors is shocking, frustratingly the Council don’t appear to be bothered. (To be fair the football pitches are equally as poor). 

As we know from experience, the EOS work is critical for pitches to be a reasonable standard for the following season. The saying, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is so true.

More emails have been sent to the Council trying to get some positive action but fear another season of poor pitches coming and more complaints from the players and Junior coaches.  Although we have offered to maintain the square, this was declined by the Council but they have allowed us to cut the outfield to our main square and help finance the work.

Ultimate Cost to the Game we Love

We understand that there are no easy answers, Councils and Clubs are struggling to maintain cricket squares because costs are increasing. There are less members and professionals offering their services to help Clubs maintain their squares. The ECB appear oblivious to the costs associated with maintaining squares and offering financial help.  

As a result, the standard of pitches for entry level grass roots junior cricket is deteriorating and those players playing dropping down from the higher XIs getting disillusioned and being lost to the game.  

Hopefully the ECB can find of way of helping Councils and Clubs to improve their grounds. It’s urgently needed if the game we all love is to flourish.

Hopefully the ECB can find of way of helping Councils and Clubs to improve their grounds. It’s urgently needed if the game we all love is to flourish.

A Frustrated and Concerned Club.

TurfCareBlog Editor Viewpoint

This is a news story l have also come across recently, where vandalism was made worst by a council or council contractors.


Renovations on council or council contracted grounds, yet again this year some seem to be done in November, this is two months after the end of a lot of clubs season and also two months after the peak germination and establishment period. Seasonally November sees much colder/wetter conditions kick in, when seed is vulnerable to frosts and poor gemination and there’s only very small window to establish prior to growth slowing in December, often resulting in a poor renovation outcomes.

Councils are putting marking up the football pitches as a priority first and renovations of the cricket squares second. Anyone of any understanding would understand that renovations are vital to do correctly at the right time, whereas marking of pitches is very much less important to the state of pitches in our game.

Another blog (above) from earlier in the year, when a council contractor came to do some aeration work but in doing so in poor conditions, did more harm than good.

Is this just a few isolated cases or is this also the case at your club, is your experience much more positive? Whatever let us know in the comments box below..

Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog community.

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Gordon Gill November 11, 2022 - 4:58 pm

My rec club plays in premier 3 and has to carry out every single piece of maintenance themselves and at there own cost. At least we determine how good it is and I have to say it’s one of the best you will find anywhere.
Now the council want to charge us 2k per year to have access to changing rooms and to use the field.
On top of that they want to charge us £15 + per hour to have use of what has been our bar and pavilion room in a sports centre.
On top of that they are limiting us to a three year lease, and could give us between three to six months notice to quit.
That means no access to grants or nothing, not much chance of us surviving if this is not changed fast. We have played on the site for 75 years and that counts for nothing. I fear the worst.

TurfCareBlog November 11, 2022 - 6:19 pm

That shocking Gordon, gets my goat clubs doing there part trying to build sustainable clubs and councils and there contractors go against this , often putting up obstacles just as you say ..

Gordon Gill November 11, 2022 - 6:26 pm

Like I say, I actually fear the worst. I don’t see how we can survive

Laurence November 11, 2022 - 10:37 pm

Yes we are entering difficult times with many issues to be solved to ensure grass roots sports clubs can continue to provide a safe and consistent playing surfaces.

The investments by clubs is poor members are not paying sufficient annual subs to cover costs

We are losing players and ex players are not prepared to find the tone to volunteer their surfaces.

Many clubs have old and antiquated machinery often not fit for purpose couple with little or no knowledge of ground manship skills all this come s to paint a poor picture of the state of our sports in the community .

We also see very little help from organisations and sports governing bodies once the likes of Gordon Gill retire from this industry where are we going to find the next generation of grounds professionals many you gather are not keen to work in our I dusty mainly due to poor pay send conditions

Not much to look gorward too

It is time people are prepared yo invest in sports participation.

How to Repair a Muddy Damaged Sports Pitch | TurfCareBlog November 1, 2023 - 3:06 pm

[…] Are councils or council contractors the ones doing the damage, if so sadly this is a growing concern as this blog testifies-https://turfcareblog.com/making-sport-possible-vs-council-contractor/ […]


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