The European Commission has recommended a ban on the placement into the market of ‘intentionally added microplastics’ – so what does this mean for artificial turf pitches?

The recommended ban will now be voted on by EU member states. If approved, the ban will come into force after an agreed transition period, there is talk of this being no sooner than 6 years from approval. At this point, the ban will only impact the sale of polymeric infill for artificial turf pitches – because these are considered ‘intentionally added microplastics’.

It does not and will not impact the production and use artificial turf itself, organic or natural infills, such as sand, cork, olives, or water-based/non-fill artificial turf systems.

What is the story behind the Proposed Ban?


Back in 2020, we looked at the implications of tougher microplastics restrictions on artificial turf pitches. The wider proposals surround the EU’s aims to:


  • Reduce the unintentional release of microplastics in the environment
  • Ultimately reduce environmental pollution and potential risks to human health.


At that time, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)’s Risk Assessment Committee had recommended a ban on the use of polymeric infills in artificial turf, as part of this initiative to reduce the release of microplastics. The Socio-Economic Analysis Committee (SEAC) was undecided, with both committees delivering finalised opinions to the European Commission.


Two years on, the European Commission has accepted the recommendation to introduce a ban on the future sale of polymeric infills used within synthetic turf systems. A six-year transition period has been proposed once restrictions are officially adopted, pending a vote by EU member states.

3G pitches will be unable to contain polymeric infill after the ban
Organic infill will be unaffected by the ban

What is the story behind the Proposed Ban?

Back in 2020, we looked at the implications of tougher microplastics restrictions on artificial turf pitches. The wider proposals surround the EU’s aims to:


  • Reduce the unintentional release of microplastics in the environment
  • Ultimately reduce environmental pollution and potential risks to human health.


At that time, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)’s Risk Assessment Committee had recommended a ban on the use of polymeric infills in artificial turf, as part of this initiative to reduce the release of microplastics. The Socio-economic Analysis Committee (SEAC) was undecided, with both committees delivering finalised opinions to the European Commission.


Two years on, the European Commission has accepted the recommendation to introduce a ban on the future sale of polymeric infills used within synthetic turf systems. A six-year transition period has been proposed once restrictions are officially adopted, pending a vote by EU member states.

Sand-dressed artificial turf will be unaffected by the ban
Water-based/non-fill artificial turf will be unaffected by the ban

What do I need to do in response to the ban?

Ultimately, right now, nothing is changing. But when introduced – in roughly six years’ time – this legislation will be mandatory, and polymeric (e.g. SBR rubber, TPE, EPDM) infills will banned from being sold for use in artificial turf pitches.


With that in mind, anyone considering a new 3G artificial turf pitch will most likely want to consider constructing their pitch with alternative specialist organic infill, such as cork, olives pits or corn, to ensure their pitch is compliant when the ban is introduced.

Contact our team to discuss the options available for your project. 


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    Organic infills for 3G Pitches

    Working with our exclusive partners, FIFA, World Rugby and FIH Preferred Turf Producers, FieldTurf, we can construct your new 3G pitch organic infill materials that are proven and tested to deliver optimum performance.


    Get in touch now to discuss your needs. Call 01635 34521 or email

    S&C Slatter are proud to announce this free and innovative new workshop offering fresh insight, practical advice, and real-world examples from a range of sports industry experts. Attendees will be inspired and empowered to deliver outstanding sports facilities for their schools and clubs.

    Register Now

    Planning a new sporting facility, whether a single-pitch refurbishment or multi-sport hub, is challenging. With challenges ranging from funding and technical specifications to player performance and environmental impact, it’s hard to know exactly what you need to develop your new facility.

    To help schools and sports clubs navigate these processes, S&C Slatter are proud to be hosting the Sports Facilities 2023 this Autumn.
    Time and place to be announced later.

    Who should attend?

    Anyone responsible for the planning and delivery of sports facility construction and refurbishment at schools and clubs.

    Schools:  Bursars | Business Managers | Directors of Sport | Estates Managers

    Sports Clubs: Chairpeople | Managing Directors | Committee members with responsibility for new/existing facilities

    Content and speakers

    In just one day, this workshop will cover everything you need to know about designing and delivering new sporting facilities, incorporating the very latest developments in sports surfaces, environmental mitigation, finance and revenue generation.

    No questions left unanswered

    Over a complimentary lunch, delegates will have a choice of breakout sessions to attend with the morning’s speakers, with an ‘Any Question Answered’ approach.



    Register Now

      Name *

      Email *

      Telephone *

      Organisation *

      Job Title *

      Your privacy is important to us. We will not share your information with any third parties and you can view our full

      Privacy Policy for further details.

      *Mandatory fields

      If you’ve been glued to your screens like us, or lucky enough to have visited one of the packed-out competition venues, you’ll know that the last few weeks have provided plenty of thrill and excitement for sports fans.

      The biggest Team England medal haul ever, sold-out stadia, breaking BBC streaming records – it’s no question that the 2022 Commonwealth Games was a resounding success. S&C Slatter are delighted to have contributed to the games with the construction of both major competition and training venues.

      Fast-track to success

      As recently announced, we were honoured to deliver the complete design and build package for the 2022 Commonwealth Games athletics facilities. Together with our exclusive partners, Beynon Sports, we delivered the new World Athletics Class 1 athletics facility at the redeveloped Alexander Stadium. This included the main stadia athletics track, infield and jumps, home of the official athletics competition. Here we saw magnificent displays from the home nations, such as the England men’s successful defence of their title in the 4x100m relay, Laura Muir’s long awaited gold in the 1500m for Scotland, and Wales’ Olivia Breen winning gold in the T37/T38 100m sprint.

      Overall, across the athletics and para-athletics programme, the Alexander Stadium saw 1 World Record and a whopping 30 Commonwealth Games Records broken!

      But no athlete can compete without a world-class training facility. As well as the main stadia track and field facility, we constructed an additional warm-up track, with the same world-leading Beynon track surface, adjacent to the stadium (complete with infield) and a further specialist throws area.

      You can view the facility just before the handover in our video below:



      Laura Muir's lap of honour
      World Athletics Class 1 Facility at Alexander Stadium constructed by S&C Slatter

      Stick at it

      We’ve had a wealth of success as a nation in both Men’s and Women’s hockey in recent global competition – but in 24 years, the England Hockey Women’s team had lost out to Australia, securing silver in three separate Commonwealth finals. That is until this year’s games, when they triumphed against the team from down under, securing their first hockey gold at the Commonwealth Games. The men’s team didn’t leave empty-handed either, securing a bronze medal in their match against South Africa.

      We were proud to have delivered one of the hockey training venues for this year’s games at Wyndley Park Leisure Centre just north of Birmingham. Here, we converted the existing sand-dressed hockey pitch into a water-based hockey field, tested and certified to FIH Global standard – required for international competition – ready to support teams training for their all-important Commonwealth Games matches.

      Wyndley water-based hockey pitch and Gen 2 training pitch
      The pitch was used as a training venue for the Commonwealth Games

      Tri for Gold 

      Another successful event at this year’s games – delivering 4x gold medals for Team England – was the triathlon, which took place in the stunning 2,000-acre Sutton Park National Nature Reserve.

      Wyndley Leisure centre is located just on the outskirts of the park and was utilised as a training venue for the triathletes competing in the games. In addition to the new hockey facility on-site, we carried out a section repair on the centre’s 400m athletics track, installing a new throws cage area and new perimeter fencing. We then carried out a specialist track clean to complete the works, ensuring that the facility was in top condition, and ready to host some of the world’s best triathletes in training for the main event.

      Wyndley Leisure Centre was used as a Commonwealth Games triathlete training venue
      We delivered the athletics track section repair, specialist clean, new fencing and new throws cage

      Many of the S&C Slatter team have been involved in these projects for years, from initial concept through to completion, so to witness the sheer scale and success of the games in action has been a joy. We’re proud to have cheered on as athletes from around the world competed on and trained on our facilities for the 2022 Commonwealth Games – and to know that as part of the games’ legacy, many more will have the opportunity to use these world-class facilities, inspiring the next generation of sporting superstars and enthusiasts.

      Setting the Gold Standard for Sports Construction

      Whether delivering large-scale projects to tight time frames for elite competition, or small refurbishments for community use, we pride ourselves on delivering first-class sports facilities for top performance, maximum use and longevity, with the certifications and success rate to prove it.

      With in-house expertise across design, planning, construction and maintenance, get in touch now to discuss your needs. Call 01635 34521 or email

      S&C Slatter are delighted to announce that handover of the Alexander Stadium’s new world-class athletics facilities was successfully completed in May this year.

      Working in exclusive partnership with world-leading track manufacturers Beynon Sports, S&C Slatter delivered a full design and build package for the state-of-the-art athletics facilities under McLaughlin & Harvey’s comprehensive Alexander Stadium redevelopment.

      A New Home For British Athletics

      As part of the major redevelopment at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, S&C Slatter have designed and constructed a complete package of world-class athletics track and field facilities. Boasting two cutting-edge athletics tracks with natural grass infields, as well as an additional practice throws area, the facility has been independently tested and awarded a World Athletics Class 1 Athletics Facility Certificate.

      So what exactly is a World Athletics Class 1 Athletics Facility? It’s a facility proven to deliver the standard required to host the highest levels of international competition, including the Olympics and World Athletics Championships. For our experienced team, it was no sweat. Between them they’ve delivered athletics tracks across the country, from community to elite level.



      Steve Ayres, Contracts Manager, S&C Slatter, commented:

      This project presented an immovable deadline and demanded the highest standards, but with our expertise, scale doesn’t impact our ability. Strong communication, adaptability and experience is what ensured our programme was delivered to schedule. Others might find the extra scrutiny a challenge – but we produce the best we can, whether for a local school or the highest levels of competition.”


      A Real Gem

      As the newest – and one of just 4 –  of these certified facilities in the UK, the world’s best athletes put this accreditation to the test recently at the Wanda Diamond League. It proved to be an exciting first test event for the venue, with Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith seeing off Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson in a neck-and-neck 100m race. Fellow home favourites Laura Muir and Keely Hodgkinson also wowed the crowds with their respective 1500m and 800m wins.

      Feedback from the athletes was fantastic, with six-time Paralympic Gold Medallist David Weir calling the track “amazing,”, Jamaica’s Omar McLeod saying: “It is a fast track for sure, I am already looking forward to coming back,” and Olympic bronze medallist Holly Bradsaw stating: “I think it surpasses the Olympic Stadium in London.”


      Proven Partnership

      Selected by Birmingham City Council and Main Contractors McLaughlin & Harvey after a competitive tender process, S&C Slatter were responsible for the design and construction of the development’s substantial new athletics facilities. Partnering exclusively with North America’s leading track producer, Beynon Sports, the two new athletics tracks were constructed with Beynon’s World Athletics Certified BSS 1000 system, engineered for world-class venues as part of the company’s Elite Performance Series, and trusted by over 400 track & field venues across 7 countries.

      An industry leader in North America, responsible for over 70% of the USA’s World Athletics Class 1 Certified Facilities, Beynon Sports have delivered over 7,500 installations at some of the most renowned venues across the globe over the last 40 years. The Alexander Stadium redevelopment will mark Beynon’s first major installation in Western Europe – and the first under their exclusive partnership with S&C Slatter – though as a Tarkett Sports Company, alongside our exclusive turf partners FieldTurf, our partnership is already six years strong. Together we have delivered major projects for clients such as Everton Football Club, Eton College and Europe’s first Major League Baseball event, MLB’s London Series 2019.


      Jason Douglass, S&C Slatter Group Director, commented:

      We were delighted to work with Beynon Sports on this truly exciting project, producing world-class athletics facilities as part of the Alexander Stadium redevelopment.  

      With a proven history of delivering sports facilities for the very highest levels of global performance, as well as for community use, we’re thrilled to have provided an outstanding facility for the City of Birmingham and elite athletes across the nation.” 


      A Slatter Group Effort

      The project benefitted from the in-house expertise across The Slatter Group, with S&C Slatter’s dedicated design team delivering the vision for athletics complex and our construction experts building the two world-class athletics tracks and jumps. Our sister company White Horse Contractors brought their land drainage and natural turf expertise to the project, working with us to construct the Sport England Type 7 natural turf stadium infield, as well as two Sport England Type 5 natural turf fields for the warm up track and throws area to complete the exceptional new facility.

      Work commenced in late 2020 and, despite the substantial challenges faced during the project, including: the global pandemic, materials shortages, shipping delays – and even the ‘great’ British weather! – the project was completed on time and officially handed over in early May.

      We were thrilled to deliver such an exciting and innovative project as part of the exceptional Alexander Stadium redevelopment, working with Beynon Sports to deliver the UK’s superior new athletics facility in Birmingham.

      Alexander Stadium under construction in July 2021
      Alexander Stadium under construction in July 2021

      Setting the Gold Standard for Sports Construction

      Whether delivering large-scale projects to tight time frames for elite competition, or small refurbishments for community use, we pride ourselves on delivering first-class sports facilities for top performance, maximum use and longevity, with the certifications and success rate to prove it.

      With in-house expertise across design, planning, construction and maintenance, get in touch now to discuss your needs. Call 01635 34521 or email

      You may have seen our recent welcome Q&A’s with Jon Pike and Jon Turnbull. Well three is the magic number, because this week we’re introducing you to another John! John Fisher has joined our dedicated team of Contracts Managers.

      Joining us with substantial experience in the construction industry, John has fit right into the team, overseeing the construction of a number of brilliant projects currently underway. Learn more about John’s military, sporting and construction background in his welcome Q&A below!

      Hi John, welcome to the company! How have your first few weeks been?

      Very busy and exciting, it’s been great to learn new disciplines having come from a different area of construction. I’ve had great support from everyone both office-based and on-site.

      Tell us a little bit about your background

      After leaving the Army, I’ve been in the construction industry in the roles of Project Manager and Contracts Manager, working in Industrial Building New Build and Refurbishment, Demolition, Enabling Works and Asbestos Removal.

      Can you tell us a bit about your new role and the team you’ve joined?

      As a Contracts Manager within the Contracts department, I’m responsible for the organisation and management of multiple sports construction projects across the country at any one time. It’s my job to ensure that my projects are taken from contract award through to site implementation and successful completion – while meeting all health & safety and industry recognised standards.

      As Contracts Managers, we are responsible for ensuring that all contractual agreements are upheld, including the governance of sub-contractors, suppliers and the daily on-site project team. We oversee the resourcing and management of plant, transport, materials and personnel.

      How has the sports construction industry changed over recent years?

      The sports construction industry has always been governed by many authorities and bodies and therefore not changed dramatically concerning build dimensions and specifications. However, surface technology, substrate preparation, and drainage engineering has developed significantly. There are now new technologies available, and innovative means of surveying and testing, with R&D constantly evolving.

      How has the industry had to adapt in the wake of the pandemic?

      The industry has its eyes opened following the pandemic, with resources for labour and materials becoming extremely vast and expensive. This has meant that relationships and agreements with suppliers have had to adapt. With the current unpredictability of the economy and material availability, strict project planning and commercial awareness are required to remain commercially risk-averse.

      What attracted you to your role at S&C Slatter?

      S&C Slatter are leaders in sports construction with an extremely remarkable portfolio. The company is ambitious and well respected with professionalism and integrity at its core. I was attracted by these qualities and spotted an opportunity to strengthen my construction knowledge, while hopefully bolstering an evolving team of sports construction and groundworks experts.

      What advice would you give to any organisations planning a new sports construction project?

      Make sure to conduct appropriate research and appoint subject matter experts at the earliest opportunity. This is the best way to ensure that your expectations are met and planned and executed to the highest possible standards.

      Finally, what do you like to do outside of work?

      I enjoy keeping fit and often frequent the gym. I really enjoy rugby, having played to the highest standard whilst serving in the British Army, and I am now a supporter with plans to become a coach once my children are of an age to play. I enjoy spending time with my young family and have an interest in country sports.


      Welcome, John! It’s been great to hear about John’s background and experience – he’s already very much part of the team and it’s great to have him with us.

      Get in touch

      Our contracts managers oversee our projects across the country. Working with their site managers and site supervisors, they work collaboratively with clients and on-site teams to keep programmes on track.

      If you’re considering a sports construction project and want to ensure maximum quality with minimal risk, get in touch with our team on 01635 345 21 or email

      Following a successful planning application from our dedicated in-house design & planning team, S&C Slatter was thrilled to continue working with King’s House School to construct the newly approved sports facilities and a car park extension at their impressive sports ground.

      Delivering for pupils across London 

      With an extensive multi-sport site at a stunning riverside location in Chiswick, King’s House School Sports Ground boasts sports facilities that many professional clubs would be envious of. Operating both as a sports ground for the school itself, as well as local clubs and 10 other independent and state schools in the local area, King’s House Sports Ground balances the needs of its pupils with the commercial aspect of its 35-acre site.

      When clearing wasteland in a corner of the site next to an unused former bowls green and tennis courts, the school uncovered a vast amount of space ripe for development. With several natural turf pitches for rugby, cricket and football already on site, as well as tennis courts and a 3G pitch, the school wanted to use the space to introduce new sports to the ground, expanding their already exceptional offering.

      So what surface would be best? Thankfully for the school, their Commercial Operations Manager, Natalie Wray, who oversees the management of the facility, knows a thing or two about sport, as a national league hockey player herself.

      Natalie was already aware of Gen 2 facilities – the International Hockey Federation (FIH)’s initiative in partnership with England Hockey, England Netball and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). When the design specification for the pitch was produced, it was clear that a Gen 2 surface would allow for the play of several sports on one surface – perfect for the school’s goal of maximising capacity and revenue opportunity.

      One full-sized hockey pitch with a sand-dressed Gen-2 surface would allow for full-sided hockey year-round, while semi-permanent markings could be utilised to offer several tennis, netball and mini-cricket facilities on the same pitch, mixed and matched based on the school term.

      Typically, it’s used for netball from September to December, Hockey from January to April, and then during the summer term, we’re using it for tennis and mini cricket (using roll-down mats to protect the pitch from the bats!). It maximises income.

      – Natalie Wray, Commercial Operations Manager, King’s House School Sports Ground

      Learn more in our case study.


      Next-gen quality for multi-sport

      Also endorsed by Sport England, the European Hockey Federation and the International Tennis Federation, Gen 2 was developed when: “governing bodies from across the world of sport joined forces to create an innovative new playing surface that can be used for hockey, netball, tennis, small-sided football, futsal, lacrosse and more.”

      When communicating with other clubs and schools, Natalie explained that the terminology can be challenging and, as a relatively new initiative, it wasn’t clear, to begin with, just what quality a Gen 2 pitch could deliver.

      When we originally put the proposal together, we expected it to be lower league teams playing on the pitch, yet both London Wayfarers Hockey Club first teams – national league teams – are using this facility as their home pitch. So not only is it emphasising that this type of surface [Gen 2] can be used for a whole range of different sports, but it can still be used to host national league-level sports, which is amazing and testament to the quality of the pitch type.”

      – Natalie Wray, Commercial Operations Manager, King’s House Sports Ground.

      With small-sided football and lacrosse also played on site, we’re thrilled to see how just one Gen 2 pitched has transformed the available sports on offer at King’s House Sports Ground.

      Learn more about the new Gen 2 pitch, as well as the 4-lane cricket facility and car park extension in our case study.

      Your Partner from Concept to Completion

      With dedicated in-house teams, benefit from a seamless experience with one point of contact from design and planning through to completion and aftercare.

      Talk to us today to discuss the design, planning, finance, construction and aftercare of your sports facilities.

      Call 01635 34521 or email to talk to our experts.

      S&C Slatter were delighted to commence construction on a new 6-lane, 400m athletics track at Scarborough College yesterday.

      The school’s headteacher, Guy Emmett, was in attendance, along with Richard Guthrie, of Broadland Properties, to see works getting underway.

      Get set for sporting excellence in Scarborough

      The new athletics facility will boast a brand new 400m athletics track complete with sprint straight and long jump . Rounding off the project, our surfacing and civils team will construct accessible parking spaces on site, as well as a new footpath surrounding the perimeter of the facility.

      Our in-house experts worked closely with the client’s design teams to produce a track specification that best fit the ambitions of the school and needs of the local community.

      The new, 6-lane, 400m track – complete with 8-lane sprint straight – features a BSS 300 series ‘sandwich’ surface from our exclusive, world-leading manufacturer partners, Beynon Sports. The World Athletics Certified Surface has been installed at athletics stadia and universities around the world, including Harvard University and at more than 20 World Athletics Class 2 Certified Facilities, suitable for international competition.

      The project is a collaboration between Scarborough College and Broadland Properties, who have spearheaded the development of the land.

      With works underway, our Contracts Manager Jon Turnbull was delighted to welcome representatives from both Scarborough College and Broadland Properties to site, as groundbreaking commenced – and the excitement was palpable!


      Richard Guthrie, Broadland Properties, enthused:

      “Time to get Scarborough back on its feet again!”


      Community spirit

      As well as being used by the school, the new facility will be opened up for all suitable community use, offering up a World Athletics Certified surface to all of Scarborough and its surrounding district’s aspiring athletes.

      According to a recent Yorkshire Live article, councillor Phil Trumper explained that people currently have to travel has far as York or Middlesborough to access all-weather facilities, and that the track would be a “game-changer” for people in the borough.

      Suitable for an average of 100,000 hours of athlete use per year, the new track will support Scarborough’s athletes of all ages and abilities for years to come – offering a safe, consistent, and top-performing surface all year round.


      Jon Turnbull, Contracts Manager, S&C Slatter said:

      “It’s great to have the team on site to start construction on this unique project. It’s incredibly rare to have a world-class track constructed at a school level, so we’re very proud as a company to be delivering such a fantastic scheme that will benefit both Scarborough College and the local community.”


      S&C Slatter are thrilled to have commenced works on this exciting new 400m athletics track construction project at Scarborough College – and we look forward to revisiting in a few months’ time to see the completed works!


      The Gold Standard for Sport

      S&C Slatter are leading sports contractors delivering first-class facilities across the UK.

      With in-house expertise across design, planning, construction, maintenance, surfacing & civils, S&C Slatter help schools to create safer, healthier environments through sports, roadway and car park construction.

      View a selection of our independent school case studies here.

      If you have any further questions on multi-use games, or would like to arrange a free site visit, please get in touch to discuss your needs. Call 01635 34521 or email

      As the world’s first – and longest serving – FIH Certified Field Builder, we’re proud to be recognised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for our expertise in hockey pitch construction.

      But what exactly does it mean to be an FIH Certified Field Builder, and why is the FIH Quality Programme important? We put these questions and more to Alastair Cox, Facilities and Quality Programme Manager at the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

      Alastair kindly visited us at our newly completed hockey facility at Wyndley Leisure centre earlier this year so we could pick his brains on the FIH quality programme. The project included the conversion of an existing sand-dressed hockey pitch into a water-based hockey pitch, constructed and tested to FIH Category 2 (formally known as ‘Global’) Certified status for elite play.

      Alongside this, we constructed a new Gen 2 multi-sport pitch for training and small-sided sport.

      Hi Alastair, thanks for talking with us! For those who don’t know, what is the FIH?

      The International Hockey Federation (FIH) are the international governing body for hockey, and we have responsibility for the sport at a global level. That responsibility includes setting the rules of the game and promoting the game. We also organise and host major international tournaments including the Olympic Games and the FIH World Cup, and assist with multi-sports games such as the Commonwealth Games.

      Alastair Cox, FIH Facilities and Quality Programme Manager
      FIH Category 2 (Global) Certified Hockey Field at Wyndley Leisure Centre

      What exactly is the FIH Quality Programme?

      The FIH Quality Programme is a set of standards defining: what is a good hockey surface, what is a good hockey field, and also an endorsement of the companies producing the surfaces. So people can select with confidence that they’re buying proven products from proven suppliers.

      Hockey was the first sport to recognise the benefit of synthetic turf surfaces, with the first international hockey tournament played on synthetic turf at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976. The sport recognised the potential of the surfacing but also recognised the need to be certain that the turf evolved in a way that suited the needs of hockey, so the FIH wanted to control the way the surfaces were used for the sport and ensure that the facilities and surfaces are of good quality, in terms of durability etc., because it’s a major investment for people to build a hockey field.


      Can you tell us about the FIH Certified Field Builder programme?

      We recognise that having good quality hockey surfaces is very important to people. But you can have the best surface in the world – if it’s badly installed, or it’s installed onto a bad base construction – you end up with a bad field. We wanted to provide reassurance again to people investing in hockey that the contractors they were employing had a proven ability to build good quality hockey fields.

      So the Certified Field Builder programme was introduced in 2015 and it defines the criteria that we expect contractors building fields to be able to achieve. To have the benefit of being certified by the FIH, the criteria for field builders is primarily a proven ability to build hockey fields. We periodically review our standards as the sport evolves or the needs of the sport change or based on regulatory environmental issues – which are increasingly becoming more relevant to the market.

      To retain field builder status you have to be able to demonstrate on an annual basis that you’re still able to build fields that meet the standards applicable today. Just because you could build fields 5-10 years ago doesn’t mean you’re competent to build them today. So for us, it’s about verifying periodically that the companies are still achieving the standards that are enforced today.


      What’s the benefit of using an FIH Certified Field Builder?

      We believe that employing certified field builders to design and build the fields is the best way of ensuring you get a good field at the end of the process. A hockey field is a major capital investment – it’s more demanding and challenging than building some other forms of synthetic turf field, as the tolerances that hockey requires are much tighter than sports like football or rugby.

      60-70% of the cost of a hockey field is below the surface, so if you don’t get the construction of the base and the drainage system correct, you’re going to end up with a facility that is not going to meet your long-term expectations.

      Is there a risk when building a hockey pitch without one?

      Unfortunately, so many people have gone for lower cost proposals and it might work initially, but when they come to resurface the field, suddenly you may find it’s not a question of just changing the carpet, it’s a question of doing a lot more. So you may save some money today but spend a lot more money in the future – and inevitably the field will have deteriorated over that initial period and the playing expectations and qualities will have deteriorated.

      There’s a safety concern if the base of a hockey field is incorrectly designed and built – and that needs to be specific to the ground conditions and the climate on site. Every site is different, and just because you build a field a certain way in one location, three miles down the road the ground conditions could be totally different, and you would have to design the base differently, so it is a major piece of civil engineering.

      We have a small ball travelling very quickly predominantly across the surface so any imperfections in the field affect the way the game is played and worst case it becomes a safety issue. The last thing you want is a ball lifting from the surface that’s travelling at speed, striking a player and causing an injury. But even if it’s just adversely affecting performance that is reducing the desirability of a facility therefore your investment is not maximizing its potential.


      What about turf systems? Tell us about FIH Preferred Producers and Manufacturers

      The core philosophy of the FIH Quality Programme is ensuring quality, so the first stage of that is ensuring that the synthetic turf surface meets our standards. Products are manufactured and independently tested for over 30 different characteristics, ensuring they are in accordance with those standards.

      We also look at the calibre of the manufacturing companies to make sure that they have robust quality control procedures in place, and that they comply with all relevant legislation. We want to be certain that only the best quality manufacturers – producing the best quality products – are able to join the FIH quality program.


      What’s the benefit of using turf from an FIH Preferred Producer?

      We will not certify a field if it hasn’t got hockey turf that has been approved by the FIH.  Part of our testing process is to assess the durability of the product. We want certainty that it’s going to continue to perform adequately throughout its life, typically 8-10 years.

      We do lots of simulated ageing in the laboratory. We do wear testing, we do artificial weathering to make sure the quality is suitable. So you’ve got a product that has got proven credentials in terms of longevity, you’ve had your field built by a certified field builder who knows what they’re doing so – providing you are using the field correctly and maintaining it correctly, which is very important, you should then be able to have a field tested for certification with confidence.


      FIH Global Category 2 water-based hockey pitch at Warwick University
      FIH National Category 3 sand-dressed hockey pitch at Royal Holloway University

      Moving on from builders and turf producers, what is FIH Field Certification?

      One part of the quality program is the certification of fields on completion. Certification is in place to verify that the field has been built to the right standards – it meets our quality levels and it’s fit for purpose. We have different categories depending on the level of play and the type of surfacing so the requirements for a field such as this one at Wyndley Leisure Centre – which is intended for elite-level competition – are the most demanding, if it’s a community field that’d be slightly different.

      Hockey is possibly different to some other sports in that we want consistency on field, so we want a field in Birmingham to be the same as a field in Argentina, Australia, or India, so the players can move around the world with the confidence they’re going to have a facility or a field that is familiar to them.


      What are the FIH categories of hockey turf certification?

      We have a different category of certification for hockey turfs and hockey fields, so for the surfaces, as the top end we have what we call our:

      Global category, which at the moment is a non-filled short pile carpet that requires watering. We have aspirations to move away from water in the short to medium-term future, but these are surfaces predominantly intended for the high end of the game so international matches and national leagues.

      National our second category, are sand-dressed surfaces that still provide very good hockey playing surfaces and when they’re damp or wet are almost as good as a global surface. We have significantly more sand-dressed fields than water-based fields in the UK.

      Below this level, we start getting into:

      Multi-sport applications. The FIH have recognised that not everybody can justify building a sports field exclusively for hockey, so they need to be able to share the facility with other sports. We have different subcategories here. Some surfaces are biased towards sports like tennis and netball, with others towards football, so the consumer can choose which is the most appropriate for them while still having some certainty that it’s good for the level of hockey that they’re catering for.


      What about FIH hockey field certification?

      Field certification relates to the quality of the actual field.

      Category One are built in international stadia – there are very few of those around the world for obvious reasons!

      Category Two the majority of fields in the world at the higher elite level are category two, which again, is what this field we’re standing in today (Wyndley Leisure Centre) is.

      Category 3 fields are sand-dressed hockey pitches.

      Category 4 are hockey friendly surfaces, where hockey is the primary sport with other sports as a secondary use.

      Category 5 surfaces are predominantly designed for football but on which very basic level hockey can be played.

      This certification allows competition organisers to specify what level of field they want for their competition or league. So England Hockey can set a policy for what they want in their competitions as an example.


      How long does certification last?

      When a field is tested is it normally certified for three years from the date of the first test. It can then be retested after this, and recertification is valid for a further two years. So it’s a two-year cycle thereafter because we’re aware that the quality of the field will deteriorate over time and we need to be certain that when tested, the field will be fit for purpose by the end of the certification period as well as at the beginning.


      What’s the benefit of having a hockey field-tested for FIH certification?

      From a field owner’s perspective, certification allows them to demonstrate that their investment has been spent wisely – and that’s often a condition of funding agencies, certainly in the UK. Equally, from a liability perspective they can demonstrate they have built a field it meets FIH standards – it’s fit for purpose so if, god forbid, there is an accident and a player is injured it’s not down to the surface it’s a sporting injury, not a defective facility.

      At the higher levels, it will allow you to compete in competitions – because some of the competition regulations will say you have to have a field of a certain quality standard. It will also allow you to promote the field to international teams to come and compete and play in tournaments on your facility.

      If nothing else it’s a good marketing tool! It’s a field that has been independently verified as suitable for hockey. It’s not the facility owner saying it, it’s the International Hockey Federation – these are independent tests undertaken by an FIH Accredited laboratory, they have deemed the field to have met the standards required, the FIH have then reviewed all of the data and confirmed that the field is worthy of FIH endorsement.


      Thank to Alastair for taking the time to do this interview with us and visiting our new facility in Birmingham.

      We are proud to support the FIH Quality Programme as an FIH Certified Field Builder, and through our partnership with FIH Preferred Producers Fieldturf.

      The longest-serving FIH Certified Field Builder

      S&C Slatter are experienced in the construction of sand-dressed, water-based and sand-filled synthetic hockey pitches, to FIH Multi-Sport, National and Global performance standards.

      With in-house expertise across design, planning, construction and maintenance, get in touch now to discuss your needs.

      Call 01635 34521or email

      Fresh from Maidstone United’s table-topping season, we chatted with the club’s co-owner Oliver Ash to discuss what’s set to be a year of celebration.

      Following an astonishing season which ended in promotion to the National League, the club and fans celebrated after their final match (which they won, of course) last weekend. But that’s not the only reason they have to crack open the champagne this year, as they approach the 10 year anniversary of their purpose built Gallagher Stadium.

      Hi Oliver, thanks for taking the time to speak with us! First things first, congratulations are in order – The Stones are champions again and you’re celebrating 10 years of your 3G stadium pitch!

      Yes, it was a major landmark for the club, returning home after some 20 years in the wilderness without its own stadium.


      Can you tell us a little bit about your role as co-owner of Maidstone United?

      I help to run the club alongside my 50% joint-owner and colleague Terry Casey, who lives near the stadium. This means that he does the lions’ share of the day-to-day workload while I, living in Paris, spend my time on a few specific areas, such as commercial activities, political and strategic issues and matters concerning the stadium and pitch.

      Maidstone United Co-Owners Oliver Ash & Terry Casey
      Maidstone United National League South Champions

      How have the past 10 years been at Maidstone following your trailblazing 3G pitch installation?

      The players took to the new 3G pitch quite easily. Our supporters have grown to love the surface because they know postponements will be few and far between. They also know that the 3G gives us a fantastic financial advantage over other clubs and enables us to increase our playing budget, thereby attracting better players. They know it is also good for playing football. As for our community players, they love playing on a top quality 3G surface at the stadium.

      A recent article in Kent Online notes that the club has made a profit each and every year since the construction of the Gallagher Stadium, how much of a role has the 3G pitch played in this?

      It has been absolutely essential. Without the 3G pitch we would not have built the stadium and all of the success we have had would simply not have been possible.

      The switch to 3G was made to ‘eliminate match postponements, create a new revenue stream and establish the stadium as a hub for the club’s youth and community teams’ – do you feel these goals have been achieved?

      Absolutely. We cannot imagine operating without the 3G pitch, which enables the club to operate 7 days a week. We are still actively campaigning for 3G to be allowed in the EFL, as it is our aim to get there in due course. We are confident that EFL League 2 will agree to allow 3G pitches in the next few years.

      Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with our partners FieldTurf and why you chose their artificial turf system for your stadium pitch?

      We met Fieldturf at a SAPCA conference back in 2011. Amongst the various companies we met they were the most professional and they realised we needed a lot of information. Trust was built up early and they guaranteed they would be our sole contact during the construction process should any issues arise.

      When it came to undergoing a refurbishment in 2016, you chose to work with FieldTurf again – how did you find working with S&C Slatter for the build?

      S&C Slatter were highly professional and knowledgeable. Any issues were quickly dealt with. Reactivity was excellent.

      I understand that our dedicated maintenance division support the care of the surface – how is the pitch performing to date?

      This current pitch has been excellent. No major issues, no major player injuries, no dissatisfied customers!

      Maidstone's 3G pitch constructed by S&C Slatter
      Maidstone United players celebrate their promotion

      Has the switch to 3G proved to be the right choice for Maidstone?


      Would you have done anything differently looking back?

      No. See above!

      Finally, following your recent promotion, what’s next for Maidstone United?

      With the men’s first team we are keen to rise up the English football pyramid to the level at which the club can continue to be stable and sustainable and not require subsidising just to exist. We also want to grow the other amateur community teams and activities so the club can become an ever more valuable asset for local people. We will not put this fabulous community asset at risk by imprudent management.

      Thank you so much to Oliver for taking the time to do this interview with us. We are proud to have played a part in the club’s journey and look forward to seeing what lies ahead.

      A huge congratulations to Oliver and everyone at Maidstone United for their promotion to the National League and for the 10 year anniversary of their truly trailblazing home ground!

      Photos kindly provided by Maidstone United, credit: Steve Terrell

      The No.1 Choice for Non-League Football

      S&C Slatter are the leading contractor for non-league football 3G stadia Pitches.

      We have delivered more pitches to the highest levels of non-league football than any other.

      We’re committed to providing first-class pitches for top performance, maximum use and longevity, with the certifications and success rate to prove it.

      With in-house expertise across design, planning, construction and maintenance, get in touch now to discuss your needs. Call 01635 34521or email