Synthetic turf in Dutch professional football
Synthetic turf is making steady progress in Dutch professional football. Next season and the following one yet more clubs will have a synthetic turf system from TenCate Grass.
In the 2013–2014 football season once again more premier league and first division clubs will play on synthetic turf. Most of them have opted for a synthetic turf system from TenCate Grass and GreenFields. The installation of these systems is the result of the tender granted to TenCate Grass by the Coöperatie Eerste Divisie (CED) [Cooperation First Division]. This is initially for six pitches, including Helmond Sport and FC Dordrecht.
TenCate President and CEO Loek de Vries (right) and Ton Raaphorst, director TenCate Grass EMEA, signing the contract
The CED made their decision on the basis of an assessment model, which considered such factors as pitch, price and conditions, and proposals for a partnership and joint venture marketing. Ton Raaphorst, director, TenCate Grass EMEA, was closely involved in the tender. ‘We offered the highest quality synthetic turf pitch, with as favourable conditions as possible. Other factors involved were experience at the top level of the installation of synthetic turf, how TenCate handles sustainability in its strategy and how this translates into advanced synthetic turf systems. In our offer are two pitches: GreenFields® Evolution™ XQ™ and GreenFields® MX. We have made it attractive for clubs to opt for the woven GreenFields® MX, which is the best pitch with the best possibilities for combining different fibres. It is also fully recyclable.’
The winning offer from TenCate Grass included the possibility of a 24/7 service package offered by GreenFields, the service provider. ‘We install the sub-base and the synthetic turf surface, we see to both minor and major maintenance and we clear the pitch of snow before the start of a league game. The clubs pay off the loan with a fixed amount each month and pay monthly for the use of the pitch.’ Another part of the agreement is a partnership with the CED for an initial period of five years. The implementation of this partnership also scored a success. TenCate and GreenFields can now use statements made by the Jupiler League in their own communications. There is cooperation with clubs at local level.
TenCate Evolution™ XQ™ and GreenFields® MX have excellent sports characteristics, maximum sustainability and a long-lasting natural appearance. They thus approach as closely as possible the playing characteristics of a natural grass pitch. The pitches – and in particular the high-grade and sustainable GreenFields® MX system – make it possible for a player to get his foot effortlessly under the ball, just as he would on natural grass. The player can also twist, speed up and turn freely – just like on natural grass. The synthetic turf pitches make it possible to play technically excellent and attractive football. The number of cancellations during the league will be greatly reduced, particularly in winter.
For the production company of TenCate Grass in Nijverdal the award of the tender has no effect. ‘There is sufficient capacity. We can make a fair number of pitches. It is just that now we have to have several pitches installed within a couple of months and then they still have to be approved for the league.’ It is expected that all the clubs in the Jupiler League will in the medium term have a synthetic turf pitch. That is also the aim of the CED. The acceptance of synthetic turf has grown significantly over the past few years, especially in the first division. ‘There is not much difference in perception between the first division and the premier league, Ton Raaphorst feels. ‘The emotion is slightly different but many clubs have embraced synthetic turf.’