What stood out most for you in terms of the other stadiums’ way of working?
It really is all about the grass in the stadiums in England. They’ve been built in such a way that they have the perfect positioning in terms of climate. And so the grounds team knows how to respond in any situation. They know exactly what they need to do if there’s heavy rain shortly before the match or if it’s really dry, for instance.
It’s great to see that all grounds teams have one goal in mind, which is to do whatever it takes to deliver the best they can for the home team.
Are there any working practices that you will be implementing for the benefit of the ArenA’s future?
There are always things that prompt people to say ‘that’d be useful’ or ‘we could do that at the ArenA’. But it’s not as straightforward as that because each stadium is very different and presents different challenges too.
Which clubs did you visit and what pitch did you think was the best and why?
We started with Tottenham Hotspur’s grounds team. Spurs were playing against Manchester United, the team of former Ajax trainer Erik ten Hag. The next day we dropped in on Arsenal’s head groundsman to see their approach and what kind of machinery, fertiliser, etc. they use. On the Friday we saw Crystal Palace versus West Ham United and we finished off the weekend at Fulham, helping out the grounds team during the match against Manchester City.
All the pitches were in fine fettle and it was great to see that all grounds teams have one goal in mind, which is to do whatever it takes to deliver the best they can for the home team.
Is there much difference in other grounds teams’ ways of working?
That was the most enjoyable aspect for me. Each stadium has its own approach, with its own gear and products.
What do you regard as the most significant collective challenge?
There are two points that present a major challenge for each stadium. The first of these is climate. And the second is the busy timetable. The number of matches played in the stadiums is on the rise. Consider in that regard women’s matches, youth teams, training sessions, etc. That puts plenty of pressure on the grounds managers.
At which other club would you like to get a peek behind the scenes?
Straight after the most recent home game (Ajax - FC Utrecht) I flew over to Australia to work-shadow groundsmen in a variety of stadiums. The stadiums are in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. There were good reasons to pick Australia. They have a very wide range of climate types, different types of sport in the stadiums and various methods of amassing data there.