Installing football turf

The installation of a football turf pitch is a four-phase process. In phase one – the tender process – the community or club should gather detailed information on artificial surfaces and define a procurement process for the installation.

Machine installing turf

Stage one – planning

A facility-planning exercise must be undertaken at the outset of any playing surface development project. A facility plan needs to identify clear project goals, establish the level of demand, and include detailed financial and operational planning. It should cover the following areas: the vision, the need, the money and the delivery.

Independent expert advice, which can cost between 5% and 10% of the total project budget, should also be sought at the early planning stages of the project.

Stage two – budgeting

Before undertaking the contractor selection process, it is vital that you have a target budget for project delivery.

Projects can vary significantly in cost depending on a number of factors. These include:

  • Location: availability of materials, distance to transport materials and equipment, taxation, import duties
  • Scale: number/area of playing surface(s)
  • Site constraints: accessibility
  • Site works: extent of earthwork and drainage requirements, as well as any undersoil heating, drainage and irrigation requirements
  • Ground conditions: rock and soil composition
  • Quality of the surface: FIFA QUALITY, FIFA QUALITY PRO

When drawing up your budget, you need to consider not only the initial capital cost of the project but also the ongoing running costs. The playing surface should generate sufficient revenue to cover all operating expenses, including maintenance, staffing, utilities, supplies, depreciation and any planned replacements or renovations.

Stage three – selecting a contractor

The contractor is selected through an “Invitation to Tender”, which invites companies to bid competitively to provide the required services based on the same criteria and timeframe.

When running a tender for a football turf installation, the design requirements can be simplified by requesting either a FIFA QUALITY or FIFA QUALITY PRO installation. This relates to the performance of the final installation and eliminates unnecessary complex specifications.

Do not just look at the final quote. Significant differences in pricing can mean major differences in the quality of the solution offered or a misunderstanding of the requirements by the bidding company.

Along with general undertakings on construction relating to the quality of work and materials, playing surface construction contracts should include clear provisions relating to warranty. As a general rule, the warranties for a football turf field should always be linked to the playing hours on the field and the frequency of maintenance.

Installation phase

The installation can roughly be divided into the following five areas:

  1. Basework/earthwork
  2. Drainage
  3. Sub-base (elastic layer, asphalt, underground heating, surface irrigation)
  4. Synthetic surfacing
  5. Installation of sport equipment (goals, bench)

A quality basework, including the drainage and sub-base work, is necessary for the longevity of a turf installation. A solid basework ensures that the underground does not become uneven after a short time, which would also affect the evenness of the football turf.

When laying synthetic grass, the installer should make sure that the cuts are straight and the seams are glued properly. If a defect is spotted after a certain time of use, the installer should be contacted and asked to carry out the necessary repair work. This should be clearly defined in your warranty.

Certification

In order to obtain FIFA certification for the artificial surface, the final pitch must pass a field test. This certification serves as proof that your surface fulfils the highest requirements for artificial football surfaces, and as such it should be linked to your warranty.

The field test must be conducted by a FIFA-accredited field test institute according to the Handbook of Test Methods. The field will only be granted a FIFA QUALITY or FIFA QUALITY PRO mark and appear in the FIFA Field Database if it passes the field test.

For international matches between teams of two confederations or for international club competitions, certification is mandatory.

Maintenance

The key to the longevity of your football turf

To protect your investment in a football turf pitch, maintenance is crucial. The need to maintain a football turf field is fundamental for reasons of:

  • Playing performance
  • Safety
  • Aesthetics
  • Longevity

FIFA’s research into maintenance clearly shows that special equipment and a significant amount of time is needed to bring a football turf field back up to the standards necessary to meet FIFA requirements.