It’s a Parklife!

The Parklife venture delivered by the Football Foundation and funded by the Football Association, The Premier League and Sport England has been a huge success.

parklife programme

McArdle Sport Tec and Partners TigerTurf have been involved in numerous Football Foundation ‘Premier League and FA Facilities Fund’ projects, for example Falmouth School, Dorothy Hyman and Ilkley Town; but we are immensely proud to have built 10 out of 20 existing ‘Parklife Sports Hubs’ football pitches to date.

The ‘Parklife Programme’ is a five year, £200-million pound investment which was introduced in 2016 by the Football Association, The Premier League and Sport England; which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

Our completed Parklife Projects:

McArdle and partners TigerTurf were selected for the first Parklife project in Sheffield installing two new artificial football pitches at Thorncliffe Recreation Ground in 2016.

Since 2016, we built a further Parklife project in 2017 for Ealing Council which involved two full-size artificial football pitches at Rectory Park.

In 2018 two further Parklife hubs in Liverpool, built by McArdle Sport Tec and partners TigerTurf, were officially opened:
Jericho Lane Playing Fields consisting of two full size artificial pitches and one full size WR Reg 22 artificial rugby pitch completed in November 2018. Heron Eccles Playing Fields opened their new Parklife hub in October 2018 with three new artificial football pitches.

In total, partners TigerTurf and McArdle Sport Tec have been awarded and completed 4 out of the 8 Parklife hubs opened to date.

The ‘Parklife Programme’ is still an ongoing venture, and at present a further 5 Parklife hubs are under construction totalling 15 artificial football pitches to be built.

TigerTurf and McArdle’s were awarded the Gunnersbury Park Parklife project and the Northern Area Playing fields for Sunderland Parklife.
McArdle’s are currently on-site at Gunnersbury Park, preparing foundations to install two new synthetic football pitches, having appointed a new groundswork team and newly acquired Komatsu dozer and digger. Groundworks are also well underway at Northern Area Playing fields, installing a total of three artificial football pitches plus a WR Reg 22 artificial rugby pitch.

What differentiates ‘The Parklife Programme’ to the FA’s the ‘Premier League & FA Facilities Fund’?

The ‘Parklife Programme’ is the creation of new multi-pitch artificial football hubs installed in high demand areas, which typically will have a minimum of two artificial pitches, changing accommodation, and potentially a natural grass pitch

The aim of the ‘Parklife Programme’ is to create sustainable football facilities contained within hub sites, which differs from traditional football investment streams as the funding partners are keen to see a portfolio* approach that provides an area-wide solution rather than a one-off site investment. Local authorities managing areas with a population of over 200,000 are invited to access the Parklife programme.

The ‘Premier League & FA Facilities Fund’ focuses on installing individual pitches in high demand areas.

The fund is available to football clubs, schools, local sports associations and councils, providing grants for building new or refurbishment existing grassroots facilities including changing pavilions and artificial pitches.

*A portfolio approach is where Local Authorities develop proposals for multiple (i.e. a minimum of two) Parklife hub sites. The Parklife model is based on sufficient surplus revenue being generated from hub sites to re-invest in the grassroots game which would not be possible at single sites

Thorncliffe Recreation Ground
Heron Eccles
Heron Eccles

“To say we are proud to have built half of the current Parklife hubs to date is an understatement. McArdle’s team are hard at work on our next two Parklife projects: Gunnersbury Park and Northern Area Playing Fields; preparing foundations for the next 5 artificial pitches for this Parklife venture.”

Steve Barclay, Estimating Director at McArdle Sport Tec.

Our Sports Surfaces

We offer a comprehensive service from conception and planning through to design and construction.


McArdle Sport Tec were delighted to work with David Wilson Homes developing the former MMU Campus in Alsager.

The land at the MMU which is now owned by David Wilson Homes redeveloped the site to create a number of new build housing and the provision of new sports pitches and amenities at the council owned ‘Alsager Leisure Centre’

McArdle Sport Tec installed two new artificial sports pitches and a further five natural grass pitches.  The new FIH National Standard sand dressed hockey pitch plus a Full Size FIFA Quality Standard 3G Artificial Sports Pitch for football are now complete with associated fencing and flood lighting; all 7 pitches costing nearly £1.5 Million pounds.  David Wilson Homes have also constructed a new pavilion, changing rooms and car parking.

Councillor Don Stockton, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This is fantastic news for Alsager as it will see new playing pitches and a range of sports and leisure amenities provided for the residents of the town.  “The council is committed to providing quality leisure and sports facilities as part of our policy to help our residents to live long and healthy lives.  “With the council’s independent trust Everybody Sport and Recreation taking over management of the facilities, this is expected to meet the requirements set out by Sport England to ensure the town’s leisure and sports offer is protected and sustained.”

Mark Wheelton – Lesiure & Cultural Services Manager at Cheshire East Council:

“Cheshire East Council have recently taken transfer of the Alsager Sports Hub, a multi sport outdoor site delivered as part of a Section 106 Agreement with David Wilson Homes. The pitches, both grass and artificial and wider grounds elements were delivered on behalf of the developer by McArdle Sport Tec.

The completed project is of a very high specification, with the artificial pitches (both football and hockey) being constructed to National Governing Body accreditation levels.

Throughout the construction process the company and team worked closely and extremely well on behalf of the developer with both the Council, NGB’s and local sports clubs to ensure that the completed facility met not only the required specification but one that took into account the local sport club needs. This additional communication element gave confidence in the completed build and one where those local clubs are playing and developing on the highest quality facility. In addition the wider ground works, including footpaths within the site and what will be retained as public open space is also giving an added community dimension to the facility over and above sport”

Sand Dressed Pitch
Sand Dressed Hockey Pitch

“It was fantastic to be involved in such spectacular transformation, the grounds for the former Manchester Metropolitan University have been completely redeveloped creating an amazing community sports area for both hockey and football

Geoff White, Contracts Manager at McArdle Sport Tec.

Our Sports Surfaces

We offer a comprehensive service from conception and planning through to design and construction.

The importance of 3G pitch maintenance

Find out how keeping your pitch maintained can save you money and protect your players from injury.

3G pitches are a great alternative to natural grass.  They will enable you to play all year round and stop you having to cancel matches.  3G pitch maintenance is also a lot less time-consuming and costly compared to maintaining a natural grass pitch.

Artificial pitches are a significant cost so the maintenance is essential to protect the pitch and make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Arguably the most important factor in 3G pitch maintenance, is to keep the turf upright. Doing this helps support the elements of natural play such as traction, ball movement, and it also prevents player injury. There are a number of things you can do to help achieve this, including:

Wearing the right footwear

Boots are a big factor when it comes to 3G pitch maintenance. Flat soled boots/shoes are typically a no-go. They increase the rate of infill compaction and flatten the pile of the carpet. 3G pitches are rigorously tested and manufactured to withstand extensive play and last as long as possible, if the correct footwear is used. We advise using only moulded or screw-in stud football boots.

Regular brushing

Relying on a twice-yearly 3G pitch maintenance service isn’t enough. Regular brushing will keep the synthetic fibres upright and protect the infill and stop it from compacting. We suggest brushing the pitch weekly. This can be done using a compact tractor with a triangle drag brush.

Infill top ups

Those small black rubber pieces spread throughout the pitch are there for many reasons, including supporting the fibres and keeping them upright. Overtime amounts of infill will end up leaving the pitch and will need replacing. If you keep an eye on the amounts of infill when you’re brushing the pitch and top it up when you see necessary.

Winter weather maintenance

Snow and ice are the only instances that could potentially stop you from using the pitch. Heavy snowfall can freeze the fibres and make them brittle, which would increase the chance of damage to the pitch and increase the risk of injuries for players. If there has been heavy snowfall you will need to wait for it to thaw out and allow the water to drain away. As with many things however, prevention is better than a cure – laying vacuum dried salts on the turf before snow or ice is predicted can help prevent freezing from happening at all.

The cost of 3G pitch maintenance

A 3G pitch should cost an average of £5,530 a year to maintain. Compared with the yearly £48,000 needed for a quality natural grass pitch, 3G pitches come out on top, again!

Get in touch today if you need support with 3G pitch maintenance.

3G pitch maintenance

3G sports pitch testing – FIFA guidelines

Guidelines and testing for third generation sports pitches

Third generation (3G) pitches are artificial sports pitches designed to mimic the look, characteristics and performance of real grass. 3G pitches are filled with both sand and rubber to keep the synthetic grass dense and upright.

FIFA’s guidelines are in place to ensure that all 3G pitches are designed, manufactured and installed with player safety at the forefront. The all-weather pitches allow players to play football in its traditional manner, all year round. Pitches are durable and resilient with a lifespan of around 10 years.

3G pitch testing

At McArdle Sport-tec, we work closely with our clients to make sure we stay focused on their needs and comply with FIFA’s 3G pitch guidelines. We work in partnership with Tiger Turf UK who comply with FIFA’s rigorous testing methods.

Sports pitches can be expected to withstand 40+ hours of play a week. 3G pitches must pass tests on a whole range of factors, including shock absorption and rotation resistance to prevent player injuries. There are 600 data points tested to determine the turf’s performance.

Take a look at the testing methods used.

3G pitch maintenance

3G pitches require a moderate level of care and maintenance in order to last the expected lifespan. There are a number of rules that should be put in place to safeguard the pitch’s quality, including what footwear should be used on the surface. Regular cleaning and attention should take place to ensure the synthetic grass is kept in good condition.

Having a well maintained 3G pitch will not only make it last longer and help prevent injuries. The pitches are designed to replicate every aspect of real grass, including ball/surface interaction. Making sure the synthetic fibres are kept in good condition will help make sure of this.

Sports pitches from McArdle

As specialists in sports pitch construction we ensure that all of our pitches are installed to comply with FIFA’s guidelines. We’ll carefully consider the best possible location on your site to minimise maintenance and prolong the lifespan of your pitch.

Find out more about our construction process.

all weather 3G sports pitch

Hockey Pitch Construction

Where to Begin

This guide has been designed to assist with answering initial questions we are often asked by clients when they first embark on their hockey pitch construction journey. 

-How much does artificial hockey pitch construction cost?
The cost of building a pitch can vary immensely. Do you require a simple resurfacing of an existing pitch with a new sand-dressed artificial turf, or brand new pitch to be constructed with drainage, sports fencing and a new floodlighting system?

Initially, the existing ground conditions will need to be assessed. If the soil is contaminated, this will need to be removed from site and replaced. The more material that needs to be removed and replaced with suitable base material, the more the overall project will cost. A basic sand-dressed pitch resurface with no lighting or fencing can start at around £150,000, and can be in excess of £1 million for a brand new International standard, water-based pitch with new fencing, team dug outs, LED floodlighting and state-of-the-art irrigation systems.

-What are the first steps in artificial hockey pitch construction?
One you have secured land for the build, you will need to speak with an artificial pitch contractor, or a consultant. They should be able to assist with planning considerations and applications, design options, ground surveys, product specifications and pricing. Should you require funding, England Hockey is a good place to start.

-What type of surface does my club need?
Most international tournaments are played on FIH Global standard water-based surfaces and league games are usually played on FIH National standard sand-dressed pitches. If your club doesn’t host international fixtures then a sand-dressed surface will more than likely be sufficient. Water-based and sand-dressed surfaces are becoming available in a range of colours. Types of hockey surface available.

Do I need to have a shock pad under the artificial turf surface?
Although the FIH doesn’t specifically state that a shock pad is required, the testing criteria make it necessary to pass either ‘Global’ or ‘National’ criteria.
The addition of a shock pad in hockey pitch construction will aid player comfort, as the impact on the knees and back is significantly reduced when a shock pad is present. The most commonly used types shock pad systems are; pre-formed roll out pads, and ‘in-situ’ shock pad. An in-situ pad is a combination of SBR rubber and PU Polyurethane binder which is mixed on-site and laid upon the tarmac pitch base.

-How long should an artificial hockey surface last?
Manufacturers will offer a guarantee for each product in their range, to give an example, TigerTurf UK Ltd’s most popular hockey surface Evo Pro is guaranteed for 12 years, or 30,000 playing hours (2017). Many of the UK manufacturers have similar product guarantee periods, either measured in playing hours, or years. It is vitally important that the surface is maintained to the manufacturers standards for the guarantee to remain valid, artificial turf pitches are not maintenance free.

-Can an artificial hockey pitch be used for other sports?
More and more artificial hockey pitches are becoming multi-sport facilities as hockey clubs and local councils look to maximise the number of hours that the surface can be used for, therefore increasing pitch hire revenue. Artificial turf surfaces can be used for multiple sports, many manufacturers have sand-dressed systems which can be used for 5-a-side football, hockey and tennis. Other sports suited to a sand-dressed surface include volleyball, lacrosse, touch rugby and athletics.

Hockey Pitch