Tag Archive for: sport

New community sport zone at SALTEX

New community sport zone at SALTEX: New to SALTEX 2023 is the Community Sport Zone which presents a range of grass pitch maintenance machinery curated to be of specific interest to grassroots and community football, rugby union and rugby league clubs – all of which can be purchased through funding schemes.

Spokespeople from the brands will be present alongside the GMA’s Regional Pitch Advisors to guide visitors through the features and benefits of the machinery, answer questions and explain how this machinery is available to purchase thanks to the millions of pounds of funding that has been awarded via the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation to support grassroots football, as well as for Rugby League and Rugby Union in England.

New community sport zone at SALTEX

New community sport zone at SALTEX

In the zone, located alongside the GMA Hub, will be compact tractors from Campey Turf Care and Iseki, combination grooming tools such as Quadraplay, tractor mounted slitters from Greentek Solutions, tractor mounted fertiliser spreaders, cricket mowers, and line markers from Fleet Ltd.

The GMA’s Pitch Advisory Service is made up of grass pitch experts and understands volunteer and community sport grounds staff better than anyone else. The Pitch Advisory Service works throughout the year to support sport’s National Governing Bodies in improving the quality of grass pitches across the country and at all levels of sport, with particular focus on community sport.

The machinery on display in the Community Sport Zone has been curated from Pitch Advisory Service recommendations in their grass pitch reports facilitated through the Football Foundation’s PitchPower web-based app.

Jason Booth, chief operating office at the GMA, says: “We’re always looking at new ways to bring value and valuable experiences to visitors at SALTEX, hence the introduction of the Community Sport Zone at this year’s event.

“It will showcase key machinery that will directly benefit grounds people at a recreational level and is an opportunity not to be missed for grassroots clubs needing an introduction to the machinery and the funding opportunities available.

“We are extremely proud of the work our Pitch Advisory Service does year-round to support community sport across the country in collaboration with our partners at the National Governing Bodies – the machinery on show wouldn’t be possible for community clubs to acquire if it wasn’t often funded through the Football Foundation’s Grass Pitch Maintenance Fund.

“We appreciate the National Governing Bodies’ support and look forward to introducing a new audience to the world of benefits that SALTEX can offer grounds care professionals at all levels of sport.”

There will also be a guided tour with the GMA’s Regional Pitch Advisors taking visitors around the show floor to see the exhibitors displaying more specialised equipment.

To take advantage of this unique opportunity, register now for Europe’s largest and leading sports turf, amenities, and landscaping trade exhibition at Birmingham NEC on 1-2 November 2023 at: https://bit.ly/456l0dA

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Making sport possible at SALTEX

Making sport possible at SALTEX: SALTEX and its organisers, the Grounds Management Association (GMA), pride themselves on the 77-year history of the event and making it the largest trade show for the sector in Europe. This history, along with the GMA’s work towards making sport possible, has made SALTEX the exhibition of choice for five of the UK’s National Governing Bodies (NGBs).

Year round the GMA, Football Association (represented by Football Foundation), Sport England, England & Wales Cricket Board, Rugby Football League, and Rugby Football Union work collaboratively to improve pitches and upskill those in the industry.

Making sport possible at SALTEX

Making sport possible at SALTEX

SALTEX is the exhibition of choice for these leading sporting bodies when it comes to meeting those who work in the groundscare industry. This has been proven by their annual participation over two busy days on the buzzing SALTEX show floor, sharing insights learned from their work, providing free technical advice on maintaining playing surfaces, and providing guidance on accessing funding.

Following its launch at Lord’s Cricket Ground earlier this year, representatives from the NGBs will be on hand to speak with visitors about the GMA’s Grounds Management Framework. The NGBs, along with members of the Pitch Advisory Service, will be available at the GMA Hub to offer support to grounds staff in learning how they can use the game-changing framework to upskill and improve their playing surface, as well as gain access to a wealth of information.

Jason Booth has worked in the grounds care sector his whole career, from his early days at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Rhinos to becoming chief operating officer at the GMA, and understands the importance of building closer relationships between the groundscare sector and the NGBs. Here, Jason explains why SALTEX is the exhibition of choice for five leading National Governing Bodies:

“Our relationship and the work we do with these five leading NGBs is critical to the future of sport. Whether professional or grassroots, sport is simply not possible without grounds staff and groundscare businesses – our industry as a whole. The NGBs understand this which is why they support the sector through funding and by attending SALTEX.

“The NGBs also play a major role in our Learning LIVE education programme where they will discuss several burning topics relevant to their respective sports, from grassroots facility funding and workforce development to showcasing the work that has gone into the major sporting events this year.

“Their input, in addition to other interactive panel discussions, which will cover key issues such as pay and reward, mental health and wellbeing, and work-life balance, adds great value to our Learning LIVE programme. And there’ll also be the latest updates on key legislations or restrictions, that are essential for today’s grounds staff to be aware of.”

Jason continues: “SALTEX is a date in all our diaries where we can come together, meet likeminded colleagues from the sector, and network with grounds staff from all sports and at all levels, from the grassroots to representatives from UEFA. There really is no better place than SALTEX for grounds staff and those working in the industry to get the latest updates on funding, as well the opportunity to meet and talk to the representatives from the NGBs about our challenges as well as paths to success.”

Register now for Europe’s largest and leading sports turf, amenities, and landscaping trade exhibition at Birmingham NEC on 1-2 November 2023 at: https://bit.ly/456l0dA

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Harrod Sport’s certified goal

Harrod Sport’s certified goal: FIFA has teamed up with Harrod Sport, a leading equipment manufacturer, to create the world’s first FIFA Quality certified goal.  

After being approached by FIFA to take part in a leading-edge programme to improve the standard of football goals globally, Harrod Sport has been hard at work developing FIFA Quality certified football goals in time for this year’s World Cup, starting in November.

FIFA partners with Harrod Sport

FIFA partners with Harrod Sport

What do the FIFA Quality approved packages include? 

Due to Harrod Sport’s wealth of experience supplying football equipment for major events, including last summer’s EURO 2020 tournament, its products required just a handful of design amends to meet FIFA’s strict criteria. This meant FIFA was able to approve two packages, with more to follow.

Package 1

4G Stadium Pro Goal

Square Stadium Box Net – 1.8m

4G Stadium Pro Bottom Hinged Net Support

4G Aluminium Hinged Net Support

4G Stadium Pro F/Hang Net Supports – 4 Pole

Package 2

4G Stadium Goal

Hex Stadium Box Net – 1.8m

4G Steel Bottom Hinged Net Support

Stadium Pro F/Hang Net Supports – 4 Pole

Clubs and stadiums can either purchase the FIFA Quality certified packages or the individual items required to upgrade their existing goals.

What are the key features? 

The goals in the FIFA Quality approved packages use a pioneering ‘pro precision system’, allowing their height to be accurately adjusted by up to 100mm whilst in situ. This will greatly aid grounds professionals who must ensure that goals are set correctly for every match – essential at the top level.

Reinforcements have been made to several other parts of the goals for superior strength and improved aesthetics. New locks and storage features have also been developed, making these the most advanced football goals on the market.

What was it like working with FIFA? 

Throughout the development stage, Harrod Sport’s main task was working through FIFA’s policies and standards for quality, humanity and fair treatment of all stakeholders: a process they passed with flying colours.

Commenting on Harrod Sport’s partnership with FIFA, Kevin Utton, Director of Sports Sales and Marketing for Harrod Sport, said: “We have always had a close working relationship with international governing bodies, including FIFA. Once we heard they were launching a FIFA Quality Programme for Football Goals, we knew we wanted to be a part of it, having already supplied many of the world’s most prestigious clubs and competitions.”

Utton added: “Having our products used at major events and now also rubber-stamped as FIFA Quality approved means a great deal to our staff, customers and everyone associated with Harrod Sport - it’s a proud moment for us all.”

FIFA were never in doubt that Harrod Sport could deliver its vision to create a new global standard for football goals.

Alan Ferguson, Senior Pitch Management Manager for FIFA, said: “Having been in the football world for many years, I know quality and service when I see it, and that is exactly why I have had the pleasure of working with Harrod Sport for many years. I am very familiar with their goals and have had the privilege of seeing them on my travels all over the world.”

Ferguson added: “Now in my role as Senior Pitch Management Manager at FIFA, I know if Harrod Sport is supplying product for a tournament, it will be to the highest possible standard. I am delighted they are now working in partnership with FIFA and have their products FIFA Quality approved.”

To learn more about how Harrod Sport is working with FIFA to raise the standard of football equipment for current and future generations, visit: https://www.harrodsport.com/advice-and-guides/harrod-sport-introduces-the-worlds-first-fifa-quality-certified-goal

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New research shows growing crisis for sport

New research shows growing crisis for sport: During GroundsWeek (1-7 March 2021), a celebration week for the turf care sector, the Grounds Management Association (GMA) has released new research that highlights the crisis the UK is facing without the next generation of grounds staff and volunteers.

The leading not-for-profit membership organisation for the grounds sector is calling on the nation to celebrate the vital contribution of grounds staff, and urging young sports fans to consider the profession.

New research shows growing crisis for sport

New research shows growing crisis for sport

The foundation of physical activity

Sport relies on grounds staff and volunteers to keep the nation active. However, with 40% of the workforce now over 50, this vital sector is facing a 9% reduction in those who maintain grounds and sports surfaces in the next 5 years. This gap means approximately 5,120 pitches in the UK could be left without a grounds person, leaving 9% of kids that play weekly (around 340,000 junior players) unable to play on safe and good quality pitches without staff and volunteers to care for them.

4.3 million people work behind the scenes in sport in the UK, fulfilling vital roles such as referees, coaches, physios, grounds staff and managers, and ultimately supporting 14,000 professional sports players. However, while almost 6,000 young people must join the turf care sector as professionals in the next 5 years to fill the skills gap, most young people haven’t even considered it as a profession.

32% of young people said they wanted to work in sport in the future and 57% regularly take part in and enjoy sport, but overall, 95% of children asked didn’t know the careers available to them in their favourite sports, and a meagre 2% had considered grounds management.

When it comes to adults, in a survey of 2,000 general consumers, 72% think grounds management is vital to sport, and 23% would encourage young people to consider grounds management as a career path, but only 11% of adults would consider it for themselves. Without an attitude shift, sport in the UK will face significant and potentially permanent challenges, despite it currently contributing £39 billion to the economy each year.

Volunteers are the backbone of enabling play; they make up 56% of the grounds management sector and overall contribute a value of over £120 million. Over 37,000 grounds volunteers in England offer their time to ensure sport at grassroots level can go ahead, supporting the 3.8 million children who would ordinarily play weekly. Despite this, only 9% of children and 15% of adults would currently consider volunteering as a grounds person in the future. Encouraging volunteers of all ages is even more important now; two thirds of community grounds volunteer are over 60, and are therefore more vulnerable to Covid-19.

Geoff Webb, CEO of the GMA, commented:

“We know how vital the turf care sector is to sport, but it’s often misunderstood and undervalued. This #GroundsWeek, we want everyone – whether you’re in the sector, a player, or just enjoy watching – to take the time to think about what grounds staff and volunteers do to make sport possible. Great surfaces don’t happen without them.

“Come rain or shine, they’re out there ensuring that your matches can go ahead – and by becoming a groundsperson, you can be a part of something amazing, and help make sport happen across the world. Let’s celebrate their contribution to sport, give the industry the respect it deserves, and ensure that a new generation know that grounds management makes sport and physical activity possible.”

Zeynu Bedru, apprentice at Harrogate RFU, said:

“I love my job. I came here as a refugee from Eritrea, and at first I didn’t know what I was going to do. I entered the grounds sector as a volunteer, and was lucky enough to be taken on at Harrogate RFU as an apprentice. I would encourage anyone and everyone to consider becoming a grounds professional; you could get a job anywhere – including travelling abroad – and it’s amazing to be able to work outside every day with such a great team.

“GroundsWeek is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the amazing work we do, and show young people what a career in grounds management can offer.”

Wes Matthews, a volunteer at Cranfield United, said:

“It’s great to see GroundsWeek being launched and to have people across all sports celebrating what we do. Getting the pitch ready for game day is so important, and incredibly rewarding – I actually gave up coaching and managing a team to focus on volunteering as a groundsperson! It’s very satisfying watching the teams play on a surface I’ve helped prepare, and knowing I’ve been a part of making sure the game can go ahead.

“I’d love for everyone to get involved with the week by sharing the #GroundsWeek hashtag on social media, thanking their local grounds person, or even volunteering at their local grounds. Grounds management is a great way to stay active and meet new people, both in your local community, and in the grounds management community.”

To help spread the word, the GMA has developed a toolkit for clubs, teams and organisations to engage with, including social media templates, graphics and imagery. It also includes top tips for looking after your local pitches, and tips for ensuring your club or team is doing enough to celebrate local grounds volunteers and staff.

For further information about #GroundsWeek visit: www.thegma.org.uk/groundsweek

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Coronavirus’ impact on sport

Coronavirus’ impact on sport: The world is witnessing the advance of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impacts on a global scale.

The effects of COVID-19, which is already considered a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation, are bringing thousands of cases in every part of the world and will cause brutal economic damage.

Coronavirus' impact on sport

Coronavirus’ impact on sport

The negative economic impact of the pandemic and its recessive reflexes scared the financial market. The economic losses will be gigantic, and the stock markets melt daily around the world because of it.

All decisions imply losses. Damages to teams, leagues and players, but also to an entire production chain that is impacted by the high degree of induction to different economic sectors.

We also have the Tokyo Olympic Games, the biggest event on the planet, which at this time has not the slightest condition to be held. The UEFA EURO Championship has already been postponed from 2020 until 2021.

Rio de Janeiro in 2016 received more than 500,000 foreign tourists, not to mention the millions of domestic tourists, athletes, professionals from different sectors and the press. In London, there were more than 590,000 foreign tourists. At this point, the Olympics would be irresponsible.

The more developed markets are closer to this index. It is the multiplier effect that makes sport a single sector.

The sport’s greatest strength is to gather interest and drag crowds. This impact that can reach 2.5 times the direct revenue is only possible thanks to its dynamism and emotion, which induces the economy and leverages cities and even countries.

There are impacts on an huge production chain, which includes transportation, food, drink, entertainment, product purchase and government taxes.

What is the economic impact of all this?

According to analysis by Sports Value, the global sports market moves US$756bn annually. This is the direct value moved by industry: the USA are responsible for US$420bn and Europe for another US$250bn.

China, the fastest growing market in global sport, makes about US$150bn annually and projects or projected its sports industry to reach revenues of US$350bn over five years.

The industry’s largest revenue source is sports retail, which accounts for more than a third of the global business.

Professional sport, although not the main source of revenue, is undoubtedly the one that most impacts the production chain, with its matchday revenues, sponsorships, TV rights, players’ transfers and its high media and employment character. And obviously its indirect and induced impacts.

Thus, a match with closed gates, the cancellation of competitions or calendar changes, directly impacts the entire industry.

Losses will be inevitable. Projected earnings will be nullified, revenues will plummet, there will be less impact to the sponsors’ business, less tourist flow, ultimately a heavy recession for all those involved with sport.

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Replay Invest In Grassroots Sport

Replay Invest In Grassroots Sport: Back in 2013 artificial sports pitch specialists Replay Maintenance commenced an ambitious programme of partnering with County Football Associations (CFAs) across England. This has proved to be such a valuable tool to the partnered CFAs, and just as importantly to the grassroots game, that in five years the number of CFA partners has quadrupled, with Replay now proactively supporting half of them.

Replay’s partnerships with the CFAs works to simplify what can be a daunting proposition for any grassroots volunteer.  As part of this unique partnership, all CFA member clubs and facilities have access to information and expert advice on the planning and implementation of an artificial maintenance programme. Replay’s remit is driven by a desire to put innovation at the heart of the business. Never more so than through the introduction of PitchPassport®, an asset management tool that is revolutionising the industry and breaking down barriers for the grassroots game – a tool that all partnered CFAs have access to.

Replay Invest In Grassroots Sport

A fundamental element of the partnership is the opportunity to design bespoke in-house training courses, run in conjunction with Replay, as well as exploring individual CPD training options for facility staff. Other benefits include free site surveys, reporting and competitively priced, bespoke maintenance packages.

Commenting on the extended agreement Replay Maintenance Director, Garry Martin, said, “We have enjoyed a positive working relationship with a number of CFAs over the last five years and in that time have shared new processes, advice and guidance to support those responsible for maintaining an artificial surface. The growth of the partnership is testament to our dedication to raising awareness around, and the quality of, effective maintenance regimes as well as being at the forefront of technological innovations in the synthetic maintenance market. With more CFA partnerships in the pipeline, we look forward to supporting and sharing new developments with the grassroots clubs and organisations within these CFAs over the years to come.”

A recent addition to the CFA partnering programme is Essex, one of the largest counties in the country. Commenting on the agreement, CEO Brendan Walshe said “With Essex’s stock of 3G pitches growing all the time, it’s crucial we help to ensure they’re being looked after effectively. We view our partnership with Replay Maintenance as a real step in the right direction towards providing the best possible surfaces. We’re always keen to understand how we can develop and better the offer to our member clubs and associated organisations. Given the FA’s commitment to rolling out 3G pitches we wanted to ensure Essex is going to be in the best possible position to support the grassroots game going forward and, as such, I’m delighted that we’ve managed to agree a five-year partnership with Replay.”

For more information on those counties partnered with Replay Maintenance, please visit the website or contact your local County FA Representative for further details.

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The World’s Best

The World’s Best: Laurence Gale goes back to university to discover what has made Loughborough the world’s best university for sport

Loughborough has been named the best sporting university in the world in the global QS higher education league table. It is actually the first time the annual QS World University Rankings by subject have included a list of the world’s best places to study sports-related subjects and Loughborough ranked joint-first with the University of Sydney, Australia.

This is a fantastic testament but fully justified by all the hard work done by both staff and graduates over the last 60 years. The ethos of the university brings together exceptional athletes, facilities, coaching and research expertise with extensive partnerships with major sporting organisations, such as Sport England, RFU, ECB to name a few.


Loughborough won the title in recognition of its unparalleled role in the triumph of the British Olympic and Paralympic teams at Rio 2016.

Over 80 students, graduates and Loughborough-linked athletes travelled to Rio to participate in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the Olympic competition they secured 12 medals, including five golds, and if Loughborough University was a country they would have finished 17th on the medal table. Similarly during the Paralympic competition Loughborough-linked athletes secured a further 22 medals, signifying that Loughborough would have finished 10th in the Paralympics medal table if they were a nation.

With a total of plus 15,000 students on campus, coupled with around 400 performance student athletes, the university is a busy place to be during term times.

The World’s BestA total of 71% of students at Loughborough University regularly participate in sport at least once a week – Sport England Higher Education Sport Participation and satisfaction Survey for 2015/16.

From alumni to collaborative partners, and organisations that use campus as their HQ, Loughborough University is associated with a number of household names.

Some of the most celebrated names in sport have studied at Loughborough including Sebastian Coe, Paula Radcliffe, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Sir Clive Woodward.

Loughborough University is home to the country’s largest concentration of world-class facilities across a wide range of sports, they include an indoor athletics centre and outdoor stadium, sports halls and all-weather pitches, a 50-metre swimming pool, squash, badminton and netball courts, an indoor tennis centre and outdoor courts, and state of the art fitness centres.

The grounds and gardens are maintained by the university’s own in-house grounds maintenance team consisting of 12 full time groundsmen and  20 full time gardeners of which two are fully trained  arborists. These teams are supervised by Managers William Relf (25 years’ service) who oversees all the sports facilities while Karen Setchell (32 years’ service) manages the gardening teams.

Will and Karen took over the running of the department in 2016 when the previous Estates Manager Mark Freeman retired.

The sports grounds team are split into three teams of four, one solely looking after all the Cricket facilities on campus, whereas the other two teams are split by geographical areas and cover a multitude of sports facilities.

The gardening team consists of five working teams, each with their own areas to manage and maintain. The Arborist team (one man and one woman) maintains all mature trees, two heritage woodlands and plantations on the site.

As for natural grass pitches the university provides thirteen senior natural grass pitches – six football, four rugby, one American football and one lacrosse. The pitches are renovated and topdressed every year using compatible sand dressings, applying between 60 and 100 tonnes per pitch.

Loughborough is also the home of the ECB National Cricket Academy and boasts some of the best cricket practice and playing facilities in the world.

The facilities include: Two natural grass cricket squares and outfields, sixteen outdoor cricket natural grass net areas (on Ongar clay), eleven artificial wickets (five outdoor and six indoor) Complete full size indoor net areas with full bowlers run up and wicket keeper area.

The university also provides some of the finest indoor and outdoor athletics facilities in the country. This includes the indoor High Performance Athletics Centre (HIPAC) enabling athletes to train and perform in the best environment available.

A new dedicated Athletics throwing arena is currently under construction and will be ready in the new year.

Tennis is exceptionally well catered for with 17 artificial courts of which, three are overhead irrigated American Fast Dry outdoor clay courts.  Three outdoor acrylic courts, Four indoor acrylic courts, four Plexipave indoor acrylic courts, plus two tarmac courts. The World’s Best

The university also has several full size artificial pitches on campus, all having different playing characteristics and maintenance requirements.

In the past many artificial surfaces were sold on the back of maintenance free advertising. This is just not the case at Loughborough. Will and his team spends nearly as much time on their artificial surfaces as they do on natural surfaces. The university has spent a lot of money investing in specialist brushing and vacuum machinery to keep these surfaces clean.

As for the tennis courts these are brushed daily while the American fast dry courts are again brushed daily, the frequency being dependent on use. This will usually be twice a day when busy. Generally, they are dragmatted with a rubber dragmat across the line of play, followed by another with a brush in the line of play.

They are then watered, using the pop up automatic irrigation system, to damp down the clay ready for play. It usually takes about an hour and half for one man to complete all the daily work on the three clay courts.

The courts also require topdressing twice a year, regular supplementary dressings throughout the season to maintain levels and a regular rolling programme.

A recent visit enabled me to meet up with Will and walk around the campus to see some of the latest industry developments going on. Will was keen to show me the new reinforced cricket pitch trials, where a number of his existing Onga and Boughton loam pitches and net areas have been sown with some artificial fibres simulating a SIS Grass/Desso style hybrid pitch system.

The results have been amazing with a dramatic reduction in wear and foothole damage, while ball bounce and turn has not been adversely affected.  Two colours of yarn have been tried, a green one and a brown one to see which one is ascetically pleasing to coaches and players.  It will be interesting to see how these pitches respond and recover from their end of season renovations. Will also said, that many of the players had not even noticed these fibres.

We then went on to see another ECB backed trial, that began last June, which saw three drop-in pitches installed into the universities cricket square.

Each pitch is contained in three steel trays, the object of the project is to be able to transport and use the pitch in a large capacity stadium, thus having the ability to play a cricket match at a different venue. Early signs are good, the 200mm deep trays are performing well. It is now a case of progressing to the next stage. Transporting and installing the pitches at a national stadium, and then play an international match on them?

Will was then keen for me to see the new throwing arena being built, that will house an outdoor covered throwing facility to accommodate javelin, discus and hammer athletes. This purpose built training centre will enable athletes to train all year round. The World’s Best

Just driving around the campus, made me realise how big and busy this place is, wherever you looked, there was a different sport activity going on.

One of the busiest times for Will and his staff is during late spring, when they have to change over from a winter sporting calendar into the summer feast of sports. This work also includes having to undertake spring renovations on some of the pitches.

Renovations are carried out on a rotational/need basis, and generally involves a programme of work that involves scarifying, aeration, topdressing and overseeding with some pitches getting a few weeks rest and recuperation.

Having a large fleet of machinery helps enormously, the ability to get around the campus quickly is paramount, all the teams are given a John Deere Gator to help transport themselves, machinery, tools and materials. Will also has a modern cutting fleet of ride on mowers to help cut the grass efficiently. A laser guided Kombi line marking system also saves time when marking pitches on a weekly basis.

The university have also invested in their own sprayers and aeration equipment to ensure they are able to carry out this work promptly and when they choose too, instead of waiting on contractor time frames.

As ever, Loughborough is definitely up there with the best Universities when it comes to managing and maintaining its estate, however, with so many top sports performers based at Loughborough expectations will always be high and the main driver for the grounds team to deliver top class sport facilities.