High level

  Grounds Management Framework - High level

    Grounds Management Framework - High level

    The playing surface is of a very high quality that meets the needs of professional and semi-professional sport in the UK.
Sport Appropriate surface for

National League

Women’s Super League and Championship


National Counties and Premier Leagues

Rugby Union Championship
Rugby League Championship


The playing surface provides an excellent experience for users and is resilient to adverse weather conditions. It will be able to host significant levels of activity and be able to meet the needs and demands of professional athletes.

It also needs to be able to provide a high-quality surface throughout the playing season with the aim of improving player performance and spectator enjoyment.

For more details about the playing surface standards please refer to the technical data below.

Benefits Limitations

Player experience is excellent

Costs and time commitments are high

Allow players to maximise their potential and demonstrate their skills

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

Better quality of play and spectator experience.

Likely to be standalone single sport playing surface

Sustain high levels of activity throughout the year


Playing surface is resilient to adverse weather conditions



The Grounds manager, staff, or volunteer and at least one member of staff should demonstrate a very detailed knowledge of grounds management and be highly skilled in all areas of playing surface preparation, agronomy, industry best practice and innovation. They would have formal qualifications which demonstrate both practical and theoretical knowledge of agronomy and the environmental impact of sports playing surfaces.

They would have a detailed understanding of sports turf agronomy, contract management and health and safety management as well as how to apply to it in practice.

The Grounds Manager would be able to manage a team of staff and provide leadership in the management of the ground. They would have responsibility for all playing surfaces, including practice grounds.

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 maintain a playing surface to the High standard would be extensive and need to reflect the wide range of operations undertaken by the Grounds Manager. The range of equipment required would depend on 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 to ensure budget control and ensure the works are completed in a timely manner.

For information on how contractors can provide additional support please click here

The Grounds Manager is provided with very good 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 significant and should only be considered if the organisation’s business plan can justify it.

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 a High 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 and achievable.

Support from the organisation responsible for maintaining 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 considered a management role that has direct input into the running of the club / organisation.
  • The club would support the learning and education of the whole grounds management team to ensure up to date knowledge is retained.
  • Have a clear 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.
  • There is a clear and protected budget for playing surface maintenance which is the responsibility of the Grounds 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
  • Understand your needs as a club and what benefits would be gained from developing a playing surface to the next standard.
  • Undertake a value for money assessment as to the benefits vs costs of achieving the next GMF level.
  • Understand the playing surface quality requirements to match the ambitions of the club.
  • Understand the level of investment required to achieve the next level. This includes both capital and revenue budget increase.
  • Invest in your grounds management team to ensure there is enough resource to manage a ground to that level.
  • Invest in the training and education of the grounds team so all staff are developing their knowledge and skills.
  • Ensure the available budget is sufficient to meet additional work, materials, and machinery to achieve and sustain the next standard.
  • Ensure ongoing management support and effective working relationship with the Grounds Manager is integral to the operations of the organisation.

To understand more about the next GMF level please click here.

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.