Football and Stadium Management April May 2016 issue
Pitch marking paints are proving their worth across football and rugby, Vitax Supaturf’s Mike King reports. There’s paint and then there’s paint. It’s important for grounds managers to know what they are buying and whether they are up to the challenge of marking out pitches day in day out as stadium use intensifies and diversifies across sport.
Quality linemarking paint contains high-grade titanium dioxide (TiO2) and these fine particles are suspended as an emulsion in a water- and resin-based medium – the finer the particles, the higher quality the product. Quality control is everything. Turf technologists Vitax Supaturf for example manufacture their marker paints at the Coalville, Leicestershire, headquarters, where mixing and formulation processes are closely controlled to ensure that only premium quality product emerges, whatever the colour required. Finer particle size means paint can flow more easily and more consistently, with less risk of congealing and blocking linemarker machines, whether they are spray or contact (wheel to wheel) models.
Titanium dioxide is introduced to optimise brightness and reflectivity – critical properties when sport is televised for example. Paint adherence is also vital. Grounds professionals want to minimise the time they take to mark out pitches, whatever the sport at whatever level but they also need to match the paint to the purpose. Top quality paint should stay tight on the grass plant leaf for more than one fixture, even if rain falls. On the other hand, a multi-sport grass surface may demand marker paint that can be washed or brushed out quickly after, say, rugby when football is played there soon after.
That’s true at Bristol Rovers FC, where head groundsman Eric Kingscott uses differing marker paints on the dual-use Memorial Ground venue. With the likes of Gloucester, Bristol University and local cup finals staged there, he needs a marker paint that will do the job on the day then be quickly removed ready for League Two action.
“I use BriteLine paint in a single pass for marking out rugby,” he notes, “then after the fixture I can brush the lines out easily with water, with no show-through.” He also usually applies the paint once a fortnight at the Golden Hill training ground where Bristol’s School of Excellence is based – marking out the U18s full-size natural grass pitch and the six other varying sized turf playing areas used by U9s upwards.
Traditional marking out demands machines that are easy to use, given the distances groundcare professionals have to push them, Eric stresses. “My Briteliner Arrow wheel to wheel is light, manoeuvrable and convenient to clean – the tank pops out of the frame then it’s flushed out in no time with the power wash.”
For the football demands at Memorial Ground, Eric stands by SupaStadia marker paint. “I have tried several brands over the years,” he explains, “but find this paint delivers a bright, sharp line that lasts well for us – a single pass is usually enough.”
When you have to rely on volunteers to divot the pitch, budgets must be tight; a fact of life confirmed by Chester FC head groundsman Michael Barrow. Moving to the supporter-owned Vanarama National League club last December, the lifelong fan knows what he likes. “We hold so many matches here,” he reports, “around 100 a year, including Liverpool U21 midweek fixtures, that keeping the ground in prime condition is always a challenge, especially as I’m the only one looking after things on the pitch. “Fast, easy marking out is a must here, using paint that will stay bright and clear for at least a couple of games. A 50:50 dilution of a tub [12.5l] of SupaStadia will get me round with a single pass and that does the job. The Arrow is light and simple to use too so saves me time, freeing me up for other tasks.”
Earlier this year, sports manufacturer and construction contractor Greenfields (Sports Surfaces) UK Ltd sourced marker paints for its Ricoh Arena (Coventry City FC’s home) and Oxford United grounds following the company’s appointment to manage the sites, which include a new XtraGrass reinforced pitch for the League Two highflyers’ Kassam Stadium base.
“We looked at all the different linemarker paints and machines,” says head groundsman Paul Currier, who tends the Kassam Stadium pitch – his son Paul managing the Ricoh Arena surface. “I set high standards and wanted something that hit you in the face visually and chose SupaStadia, which really looks the business pre-match and is so reasonably priced I can apply it neat, especially if we are being televised – and there’s no issues using a spray linemarker. ”
“Achieving the same colour green to blank out lines is hard work and we are working closely with Vitax Supaturf to tailor a solution for us,” adds Paul senior. “We’ll persevere until we find the right blend to do the job. These are exciting times for Greenfields and both sites are delighted with our work to date. We will soon have managed both pitches for a full season and will be able to assess our full impact on the grounds management then.” Certainly sounds like he’s moving in the right direction.