The beauty of the Football Pyramid is that everyone can dream of forming a team with dreams of becoming the next Wimbledon, Irthlingborough Diamonds or Yeovil Town. Once a team has dared to take their first steps on the footballing ladder, there really are no limits to how far they can go. Providing they are willing to invest that is. This is where ground grading enters the equation.
Like most things in the world today, success can only be achieved at a price. Countless clubs over the years have blown away the opposition in their own league, only to be denied promotion for failing to have a ground which comes up to scratch.
Enforced by the Football Association, ground grading is dictated by the level of football a team is playing at, known as 'Steps'. There is some leeway for Club's to adjust, which is especially welcome for clubs who have won championship after championship, but not had time to catch their breath and invest. For example, a club from the Northern Premier League (Step 3) can be promoted to the Conference North (Step 2) with Step 3 facilities, providing they upgrade their facilities to Step 2 standards by the end of their first season playing at Step 2. Failure to do so would result in expulsion from the league.
There are a substantial amount of conditions which the Football Association attach to ground grading standards. An example of which is the following expectations of a boundary fence at a Conference National stadium:
External Boundary Wall 2.2
The ground must be enclosed with an external boundary wall of sound construction, secure on all sides of the ground and sufficient to deter would be climbers. The boundary must be of sound construction of pre cast concrete, brick, breeze block or metal cladding with steel or concrete posts and be of a minimum height of 1.83 metres as measured from outside the ground. Whilst lapped timber, latch panel wood fences and wire mess fences with wooden posts may be acceptable, hedges, shrubs and/or trees will not be accepted.
For the full details of the present expectations of the Football Association, click here. Be warned, this an extremely detailed document is for the dedicated only.
For those with less time on their hands to dissect the 51 page ground grading bible, I provide below a table summarising the main expectations of F.A. Ground Grading. The table is specifically linked to the leagues on the Pyramid that affect Nottinghamshire club's. The Central Midlands Premier Division is not subject to these requirements, but local expectations of the CML Committee dictate that the standards of Step 7 would still be expected. The Nottinghamshire Senior League is not presently part of the Pyramid system. For more about the Pyramid system, click here.
Step 1 (Conf Nat)
|Step 2 (Conf Nth)||Step 3 (Ntn Prem)||
Step 4 (Ntn First)
|Step 5 (NCEL Prem)||Step 6 (NCEL First/EMCL)||Step 7 (CML Supreme/NSL)|
|Security required||Freehold or 10 yr lease||Freehold or 10 yr lease||Freehold or 10 yr lease||Freehold or 10 yr lease||Freehold or 10 yr lease||Freehold or adequate security||Freehold or adequate security|
|Capacity||4000||3000||2000||1500||1000||Not specified||Not specified|
|Car Parking||Yes + Bus space||Yes + Bus space||Yes + Bus space||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Pitch Perimeter Barrier||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Playing Area||100m x 64m||100m x 64m||100m x 64m||100m x 64m||100m x 64m||100m x 64m||100m x 64m|
|Technical Area – trainers’ boxes||Yes - 11 seats||Yes - 11 seats||Yes - 8 seats||Yes - 8 seats||Yes - 8 seats||Yes - 8 seats||Yes - 8 seats|
|Floodlighting||250 avg lux||180 avg lux||120 avg lux||120 avg lux||120 avg lux||120 avg lux||120 avg lux|
|Public Address System||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not compulsory|
|Entrances – turnstiles (minimum)||8 turnstiles||6 turnstiles||4 turnstiles||3 turnstiles||2 turnstiles||1 turnstile or pay box||1 turnstile or pay box|
|Emergency Lighting (in all spectator areas)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Seated Accommodation (inc Directors/Committee)||500 (40)||500 (24)||250 (24)||150 (24)||150 (16)||100 (16)||50|
|Covered Accommodation (inc Seated Areas)||Not specified||500||500||300||250||200||100|
|Press Seating||6||6||4||2||2||Not compulsory||Not compulsory|
|Dressing Rooms – players in sq m||18 sq m||18 sq m||12 sq m||12 sq m||12 sq m||12 sq m||12 sq m|
|Dressing Rooms – match officials||6 sq m||4 sq m||4 sq m||4 sq m||4 sq m||4 sq m||4 sq m|