Elite level

  Grounds Management Framework - Elite level

    Grounds Management Framework - Elite level

    A playing surface that is of outstanding quality and meets the standards of play for elite sport in the UK. It meets the playing needs and expectations of professional athletes.
Sport Appropriate surface for

International, Premier League and Championship

Women’s Super League and International


International and First-Class Counties

Rugby Union

International and Premiership

Rugby League

International and Super League


The playing surface meets all the needs of professional sport and provides a top-class playing surface for players to demonstrate their skills. It is virtually fully resilient to all adverse weather conditions and can host very large levels of activity throughout the year.

At the heart of these playing surfaces are maximising player performance and increasing spectator enjoyment.



Exceptional player experience

Very high costs and time

Allow players to maximise their potential and demonstrate their skills

Requires a highly skilled and experience Grounds Manager to manage the ground

Top quality standard of play and spectator experience

Requires a significant number of staff and machinery

Sustain very high levels of activity throughout the year


Playing surface is almost entirely resilient to adverse weather conditions



Grounds manager, staff, or volunteer and at least one member of staff should demonstrate extensive professional qualifications (recommended foundation degree level), with a commitment to having the latest knowledge of industry-leading techniques. They would have very detailed knowledge of sports turf agronomy, playing surface construction, implementation of a health and safety culture and innovations across the industry.

The Grounds Manager is part of the organisation’s senior management team providing leadership to the ground management department. They will be a proven leader and able to manage large complex teams and have full management responsibility for all aspects of the ground and training facilities. Individuals would need to demonstrate competence and extensive experience of project and contract management.

For more detailed information about what is required to maintain a playing surface to this standard please refer to the full GMF Skills and Knowledge Matrix.

The machinery and tool requirements to maintaining a playing surface to an Elite standard would be very extensive and need to reflect the wide range of operations undertaken by the Grounds Manager.

The range of equipment would need to reflect the structure of the playing surface subbase, local conditions, and a range of other factors.

There may still be circumstances when the use of contractors may be a cost-effective approach instead of purchasing and servicing machinery that is rarely used. This needs careful consideration on a case-by-case basis.

The Grounds Manager is provided with all required resources from the management in terms of budget and support. The cost of time and money to prepare a playing surface to this standard is very significant and so the business plan should be adjusted account for this.

The Grounds Manager will need to be supported by a skilled and knowledgeable team that can undertake both regular maintenance and match day activities. This team could be extensive depending on the number of playing surfaces that need to be maintained. This support may also include specialist work completed by contractors.

To be able to maintain a playing surface to an Elite standard requires a very substantial budget to cover both day-to-day maintenance and regular major works required throughout the season. When agreeing the budget for the playing surface maintenance it is essential to understand the performance requirements of the playing surface, in terms of player performance and in line with competition regulations.

It is important that any budget is set in consultation and agreement with the Grounds Manager so that all parties are clear of what is required to achieve the Elite standard.

Support from the organisation responsible for the ground is essential. This support should cover the following areas:

  • Continue to prioritise the playing surface as an asset that has an impact on players, spectators, coaches, and income.
  • The Grounds Manager should be an active part of the senior management team.
  • The club would support the learning and education of the whole grounds management team to ensure up to date knowledge is retained.
  • The Ground’s Manager would have knowledge of new and emerging industry innovations and technologies.
  • Have a strategy for use of subcontractors, machinery servicing and replacement.
  • Have a long-term vison for the ground so plans can be created to achieve desired outcomes that is fully supported by the club / organisation.
  • There is a clear and protected budget for playing surface maintenance which is the responsibility of the ground manager.
  • The Grounds Manager’s role should be praised and appreciated for the essential and hard work that is put in place, including raising the profile among fans, coaches, and players.
  • There should be a clear and good working relationship, understanding and appreciation between Grounds Manager, team management and coaching team to deliver to a common goal.

To discuss furtherPlease contact :

title Nicola Collins GMA Programmes Support Lead

Telephone: 07874 869 564 Email: ncollins@thegma.org.uk

Nicola joined the Grounds Management Association (GMA) in October 2017.