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Leicester City gets inventive designs with teamwork and technology

July 21, 2017  - By

Leicester City Football Club Grounds Manager John Ledwidge at the 2017 STMA Show with what he calls his favorite piece of equipment, the Cub Cadet Infinicut. (Photo: AT staff)

Whether it has been winning an improbable championship, or going viral on social media for field designs, there has been a lot of attention on Leicester, England, home of the Leicester City Football Club (LCFC), and the club’s grounds staff.

The approximately two acres on the pitch at King Power Stadium and another 24 acres at the club’s training ground are maintained by 14 individuals; one mechanic, one gardener and 12 grounds staff members. John Ledwidge, LCFC’s grounds manager, has led the team since the winter of 2014.

Last May, the LCFC grounds staff was recognized by the Barclays Premier League (BPL) as having one of the top five fields’ in the 20-team league during the 2016-2017 season.

“Here at LCFC we strive to be the best we can be and more importantly to be consistent, offering the best possible condition for our teams to train and play on, recognition to be in the top 5 premier league pitches is a great achievement and validation for the hard work and dedication from my team,” Ledwidge told “Further to that it is justification for the board of directors and owners who, year on year buy into my philosophy and invest heavily to help us achieve the standards we do.”

LCFC have gained some extra recognition for the designs mown into the field, but Ledwidge is quick to give credit to his fellow grounds staff members and calls the impressive designs a “collective team effort.”

“We all have ideas for designs, we discuss them and draw them out and decide together what to implement,” adds Ledwidge.

One design that stuck out the most was when the LCFC crest could clearly be seen in the turf in the middle of King Power Stadium’s pitch for the club’s final BPL game last season. Ledwidge, a more than 18-year sports field management veteran, according to an interview with the Leicester Mercury, received help with that design from New Grounds Technology thanks to an encounter at the 2017 STMA Show in Orlando, Fla.

“I met the inventor at the STMA, and he was a big fan of ours and us of him. We decided then that we could work together and I was delighted when we implemented the logo into the pitch,” recalls Ledwidge. “We submitted the logo a week before and when the guys from New Grounds Technology’s European division arrived and the logo was complete within 3 hours.”

What the LCFC is best known for is its unlikely run to win the 2015-2016 BPL Championship. The club started that season at 5,000-1 odds to win the championship, but Ledwidge says that the season was “incredible, but not a surprise.”

“The club has always aspired and continues to aspire to be the best and we achieved it that season, I felt privileged to be part of that journey and felt every up and down along the way with my team” says Ledwidge. “The pressure was incredible ensuring the playing surfaces were never to blame for any potential slip-up. The moment we actually clinched the title was during an away game but the staff were all together and I have never seen so many grown men cry. But what an occasion not just for the club, but for the city and the staff.”

Photo: AT staff

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