A football pitch is at the heart of what makes football, football. But it is important to understand what goes behind constructing a consistent, strong, and durable football pitch.
The modern pitches that we see today are a product of science and technology that has evolved over the years, but in older times the pitches were a mess.
The pitches became a mud bath when the conditions were not ideal. They were frozen hard in winter or cracked open during the summers.
This was bad for football. This led to injuries, bad passing and it that bad for business. Football pitches needed to be fixed.
The first attempt was made by Everton when in 1958 they tried electrical undersoil heating, but unfortunately, the ice melted and it harmed the drainage system of Goodison Park.
In the 1980s QPR, Luton Town, Oldham, and Preston installed the second generation of artificial turfs. These pitches were criticized for having an uneven and excessive bounce.
It is only in recent times with new money and horticulture, have we been subjected to sophisticated, technologically advanced, and science-driven pitches.
As a result, these pitches are flat and fast all year round, and the beautiful football we see is the product of that.
So how are these pitches made exactly? – let’s find out!
Underneath the grass
First, clear and level the site. Then add a permeable membrane and deep drainage pipes. Top that off with free-draining substrates of sand and gravel.
Now comes the heating part, similar to the one that Everton tried, but a bit more technologically advanced.
The heating system used in pitches nowadays can be customized to have different temperatures at different parts of the pitch at different times. This is possible with pitch-wide heat sensors that feed information on where and how much heating is required across the pitch.
Then, at last, top all this up with sandy clean soil and get it flat and even, and you are ready for some grass.
The grass (Turf)
Now there are different turfs available for different climate conditions, select the right one and you are good to go.
The turf will be grown, cut, folded, and delivered in 14 months to the club.
now even this pitch can break down after excessive use, so to avoid that polyethylene fibers are woven into the turf. They make the pitch tight and durable.
Another problem that arises is that stadiums are enclosed spaces so the air circulates slowly and the wind is rare and both are bad for the grass.
As a solution, large fans are placed within the stadium.
Light and slow growth can be a problem too. So, huge lightings rigs are placed as well.
Now UEFA specifies the pitches to be 24-28 mm in size for their matches.
To meet this requirement, clubs do not cut down their grass all at once because this weakens the grass; instead, they chop down their grass by 2mm each day, with the final 2mm removed on the morning of the match.
After that, mark the pitch with white lines, put up the goalposts and you are ready to go!
Then, let the superstars take the pitch and do what they do best! – play sumptuous football!