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Don’t let your pitch get a red card for poor irrigation

With football season almost over and summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to rethink the upkeep of your playing field. Low quality dry or hard pitches are a constant source of embarrassment for clubs and also one of the most common causes of injury in rugby and football; an irrigation system can provide you with a professional standard of pitch at a fraction of the cost.

An irrigation system is an invaluable asset to any groundsman, from the highest standard of English football to your Sunday league 11 goal thrillers there are certain FA guidelines regarding the maintenance of your pitch – additionally pre match risk assessments take into account the quality of the pitch, to determine whether or not it’s safe to be played on.

What are the FA guidelines for pitch maintenance?

Amongst a vast host of pre-match inspections that should be carried out, the FA feature a section on pitch irrigation and why it is needed, some of these include:

  • Facilitate a level of impact absorbency
  • – Softer, fuller turf poses less risk of injury in the event of a fall 
  • Aid grass recovery after play
  • – Preventing baron patches from appearing, allows for training and further pitch use  
  • Effect speed of ball across the pitch
  • – Usually seen at higher levels off football, this refers to the fact that a ball will ‘glide’ across a well maintained pitch, rather than ‘bobble’ on a lower quality one
  • Maintain healthy, vigorous grass growth
  • – Healthy turf with deep roots are more resilient and recover faster after sporting action

What happens if your pitch doesn’t meet FA guidelines?

Although there are no severe repercussions as they are just guidelines. Failure to properly maintain your pitch can result in games having to be cancelled. The referee decides before the game whether or not the pitch is suitable for play – this can result in your team being docked points and leaves your club unable to train on the pitch.

Even at the lowest levels of amateur football FA risk assessments are carried out pre-game to assess the potential of risk throughout the duration of the game, part of this includes the ‘likelihood of a trip or fall down to mud or ice on the pitch’ these documents are standardised all the way to the top tier of English football.

What Is a long reach irrigation system?

A long reach irrigation (LRI) system is a unique portable watering system that provides large areas with water, it operates on a standard mains supply even if the water supply or water pressure on the site is low. The Mawdsleys Pump Services LRI system is the only unit currently available that can enable a large rain gun to operate on a standard mains supply and can cover a whole playing field in less than an hour. As well as being fully manoeuvrable and easy to set up it can be unattended day and night; just like a permanent underground system, for a fraction of the cost. 

How would a LRI system benefit me as a..


  • A better playing surface usually means for a better quality of play, whatever your sport – our Irrigation systems have been used for football, rugby and cricket pitches.
  • Softer fuller turf poses less of injury risk to you in the event of a fall
  • Pitch can easily be sprayed at half time if necessary
  • Having a better pitch than your competitors grants exponential bragging rights


  • Easier maintenance of pitch, a LRI system can allow you to effortlessly maintain your pitch, and even leave the system on overnight. 
  • Unlike sprinkler systems they only deliver water where you need it, additionally controllable fine spray prevents waterlogging the pitch 
  • Mawdsleys provided Taunton FC with an LRI, their groundsman later won the FA groundsman of the year of the award.

Are LRI systems only viable for high tier clubs?

LRI systems offer similar levels of performance to permanent underground systems you find at higher levels of sport stadiums – they are an affordable alternative to this and have been used by high profile clubs in the past, Crystal Palace football club used one of our LRI systems to maintain their home ground. Their groundsman explained to us that the sprinkler system they used previously took up to 3 hours to water the whole pitch, our LRI system can take less than an hour.

If you do not have access to a water source with adequate pressure, we can assist with the design and installation of a tank and pump to suit your requirements.

What other playing fields are LRI systems used for?

Although we have focused mainly on football in this instance, LRI systems are a viable option for other sports including:

  • Cricket fields, the system is used here to prevent soil particles from sticking together which helps the ball’s rolling process.
  • Equestrian centres, during the summer months a fine spray can help prevent dust
  • Rugby pitches use the system in the same way a football pitch would, rugby pitches generally experience more wear and tear than most sports fields due to the nature of the sport.

Can we help you?

We’d love to help you produce the perfect playing field, to find out more about any of our irrigation systems or to talk to us about designing a bespoke solution for your sports ground, just call our friendly and knowledge team on 0117 954 8030.

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