The Groundsman

January 2016

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AN ENGLISHMAN ABROAD 27 the Groundsman January 2016 Visit for more information and digital editions This is one aspect where I'm looking to change/find improvement, though in the meantime I'm using a lot of gypsum to help flush the salt through the topsoil. Interestingly, the water problem seems to affect the gardens more than the pitches. I'm spending a lot of money on plants every year and, again, I'm looking to change this situation by investing in greenhouses to grow our own. "The extremes in climate here in Madrid are very challenging – temperatures in the winter can be -10 degrees and in the summer 43 degrees, resulting in two difficult periods. Coupled with this is the fact that the stadium is the highest and one of the darkest in Europe, and working with turf (because we are multi-use) makes it probably the most difficult stadium in which to achieve and maintain a playing surface for the world's most expensive team and the highest TV audiences." Pre-season challenges "I'm also heavily involved with the club's pre-season tours (for this season we travelled to Australia and China), selecting the training grounds and inspecting the stadia pitches – often changing the grass or installing natural turf over an artificial pitch. This can sometimes see me specifying six or seven 'new pitches' for a pre-season tour." Generally in Spain, has groundsmanship taken on a new importance since your continued success there? "The biggest difference to groundsmanship in Spain is that the majority of stadia groundsman here are employed by contractors rather than directly by the football clubs. So, it isn't easy to get them together around a table to share ideas. However, I am a board member of the Spanish greenkeepers' association (La Asociacion Espanola De GreenKeepers) and one of my aims here is to grow its membership of football groundsmen and to encourage more networking. "As an aside, I recently met with the former head groundsman at Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium and he mentioned that the presentation and playability of the Real Madrid pitch had meant increased pressure on other Spanish stadia pitches. That was nice to hear." l Paul Burgess joined Real Madrid as head groundsman in April 2009. With Arsenal FC he is a previous multiple winner of the Premier League Groundsman of the Year Award in seasons 2001/2, 2004/5, 2005/6, 2007/8 and 2008/9 (his Premier League pitch was highly commended in seasons 1999-2000, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2003/04 and 2006/07). He was also IOG Professional Football Groundsman of the year 2004/5, Turf Professional of the year 2008, won the AOC (Assocation of Colleges) Gold Award in 2011 and in 2013/14 and 2014/15 won UEFA Youth League pitch of the year. He has been a UEFA Pitch Consultant since 2003 and was lead consultant for the 2004 and 2008 UEFA European championships, as well as a number of Champions League and Europa League finals venues. Please refer to The Goundsman June 2010 issue for a comprehensive report on his work at Real Madrid. Mixto – where nature meets technology The hybrid Mixto system is a reinforced natural grass carpet (developed by Limonta Sport and Rappo – based on an inert carpet stitched with Limonta MAX S yarns underneath which the natural grass roots grow. The system can be installed either by direct sowing/seeding or by laying in large rolls. The latter installation process sees the company promote the 'lay and play' system; it says Mixto can be used the day after installation. It is stated that the surface provides approx 1,100 hours of use/ year and that its higher resistance to damage and therefore resulting less maintenance are both around 30 per cent lower compared to natural grass. The system – which is under continual test at the University of Milan – is installed at a number of football stadia and training centres (including the Azerbaijan Football Federation, Dynamo Moscow, AC and Inter Milan, plus Amsterdam Arena) as well as at a rugby venue in France. Left to right: Real Madrid former assistant coach Paul Clement, Paul Burgess, player Gareth Bale and conditioning coach Jack Nayler

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