Stadium Industry Update: Europe's best pitches

As the European football season draws to a close, the spotlight shifts from the players on the pitch to the meticulous work beneath their feet. Groundskeeping teams across Europe dedicate countless hours to ensure the highest quality playing surfaces, contributing significantly to the game’s overall excellence. This week, ESSMA focuses on the latest updates from the groundskeeping world, highlighting the prestigious awards* given to the best pitches in various European leagues. Join us as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of these unsung heroes who maintain the pristine conditions of some of the continent's most iconic stadiums.

*Note: This article will be updated throughout the summer as more awards get announced  

Denmark: Brøndby IF wins best pitch for fourth year in a row

The captains of the 3F Superliga have voted and awarded Chris Hague and his team at Brøndby stadium with "best pitch" for the fourth consecutive year. 

Thomas Lindrup, head of player advice at the Player's Association commented: "We can see round after round, season after season, that Chris and his team have managed to ensure continuity and quality on the pitch in Brøndby. It is largely without fluctuation that the players give the hybrid pitch top marks when they visit Brøndby Stadium." 

Bronby IF won the award with an average rating of 4.64/5 ahead of Viborg FF's Energi Arena (4.07) and Aarhus GF's Ceres Park (3.79).

Source: https://www.spillerforeningen.dk/artikel/brondby-stadion-danmarks-bedste-bane-for-4-ar-i-streg

England: Aston Villa crowned “Premier League Grounds Team of the Season” 

The Premier League have named Aston Villa as the worthy winners of the Grounds Team of the Season award for 2023/24. Determined by a number of factors, the Grounds Team of the Season Award takes into account the amount of usage, environmental conditions, assessment of resources and management, marks given by the Referees and Match Delegates at each fixture. A pitch-quality inspection is also conducted by independent sports turf experts to ensure all criteria are met.  

The pitch at Villa Park was commended for its exceptional quality throughout the season despite a high number of women’s and European fixtures as well as the 19 Premier League matches. In addition, the grounds team at Villa had their approach to innovation and sustainability praised, scoring highly in this area as a result of reducing their use of fungicides and consideration of adapting machinery to perform bespoke tasks. The team led by the illustrious Karl Prescott received their award on Monday ahead of the match against Liverpool. 

Source: https://thegma.org.uk/news/aston-villa-crowned-premier-league-grounds-team-season 

Portugal: FC Porto ranked as “Best Pitch” be the official Liga NOS ranking 

With an average score of 4.99 out of 5 and an overall accumulated score of 89.75 out of 90, FC Porto’s Estadio do Dragao was ranked as the best pitch in Portugal’s Liga NOS ahead of SC Portimonense’s Portimao stadium and SL Benfica’s Estadio da Luz.  

Source: https://www.ligaportugal.pt/pt/liga/relvados/20232024/ligaportugalbetclic 

Belgium: OH Leuven awarded “Best Pitch of the year” for 4th time in 5 years.  

During all matches of the regular competition, the opponent's coach and captain, the match delegate and a representative of the TV rights holder assessed the home team's pitch. This happened in both the Jupiler Pro League and the Challenger Pro League. Points were awarded for, among other things, the quality and playability of the turf. 

With an average score of 58.06 out of 60, the field in the King Power at Den Dreef Stadium once again received the highest rating of this season. OH Leuven remains ahead of Antwerp FC and KAA Gent in the rankings. OH Leuven’s pitch is officially once again the best field of all 24 professional clubs in Belgium. And this for the third year in a row and for the fourth time in five years! 

Head of Groundsmen Luke Russell is very pleased to have won this prestigious award. “I am proud that we have won this award again, because the quality of the fields of the other clubs was also very good this season. But above all, I am very proud of our team who worked incredibly hard all year round and fully deserve this recognition for that hard work!” 

Source: https://ohleuven.com/news/oh-leuven-wint-de-pro-league-groundsmen-of-the-season-award 

To be awarded later in June:

  • Italy: Serie A’s “Most valuable Field Award”  

  • Germany: Bundesliga’s “Pitch of the year award”  

  • The Netherlands: “VVSC’s Best Pitch Award”  

  • Spain: LaLiga’s best pitch 

  • France: Ligue 1’s best pitch 


Did your club/stadium win an award we missed? Do you have an interesting story or case study to share? Do you have questions about pitch management for the ESSMA Community?  

Don’t hesitate to contact us via contact@essma.eu and share your story!  

Posted on 03/06/2024 in: