The Groundsman

March 2016

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Visit for more information and digital editions IOG BEST PRACTICE 20 the Groundsman March 2016 hen appointed head of grounds and estates of both the St George's Park complex and Wembley Stadium, in November 2015, Alan Ferguson stepped into a position that is believed to be unique in the world of international grounds management. Alan brings 37 years' experience and knowledge to the job, and clearly it is not only hands-on turf management expertise that characterises him but also the skills set he applies to tasks that are in addition to the necessary day-to-day maintenance practices. "I am aware of the need to ensure we all work as a team, therefore communication is vital at all levels," he states. "Such communication is not just leveled at the practising groundsmen but also at senior management too. It is essential that everyone is kept regularly updated and informed of what is expected of them, to pre-empt and prevent any unpleasant surprises. "I have set myself and the grounds team a challenge and that is to make Wembley, the home of English football, a 'fortress' against opposing teams and to prepare a pitch that provides the best possible playing surface for the England team. To achieve this, we must ensure that the training pitch at St George's Park (SGP) replicates as close as we can the Wembley surface, so that the players can experience a similar feel, ball bounce and run. "It is important to ensure we have the right staff training and development W "The more you lead, the less you'll have to manage" In an exclusive interview Alan Ferguson – who heads up the team that last year won two IOG Awards – discusses the formula for success at both St George's Park and Wembley Stadium By: Richard Fry programme in place. Technological advances and innovation in this industry are running ahead very quickly and we must not be left behind. It is vital that at both Wembley and SGP, we understand fully each other's roles so that we have the flexibility to move people around as required. We want turf brains not turf brawn. Harnessing innovation "At Wembley we are looking closely at the benefits that can be obtained from a SubAir system (soil aeration and moisture control), a new concept from the USA. We are also undertaking a turf lighting rigs trial, independently assessed by the STRI, and looking for an improvement in seed germination, "Technology is moving ahead very quickly," says Alan Ferguson, "and we must not be left behind. We want turf brains, not turf brawn"

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