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Cursed Lawns of Ligue 1

The championship of France made his return on lawns in a deplorable state. A recurring plague that struggles to solve the professional football clubs.

In Lyon, slipped tackles unhook whole sections of lawn. In Angers, a mushroom transforms the green rectangle into a dirt track. Some grass, which was contested last weekend the first day of Ligue 1, are unworthy of a world champion country football.

As a tradition, the grass of the stadiums of French clubs maintain each season their sad reputation. And despite all the criticisms made by players and coaches, including the famous comparison in 2016 of Pascal Dupraz, then coach of Toulouse, between the lawn of the Stadium and the Gobi desert, the green revolution is slow in coming.

A relationship with the French lawn

“In France, we just do not listen to gardeners. There is little respect and consideration for this profession, “said Jonathan Calderwood, star of the English gardeners in charge of the lawn of the Parc des Princes, when he arrived in 2013 on the Paris-Saint-Germain site. 250 000 euros per year is proposed to transform a meadow in a deplorable state. He even confided: “The first year, I could not watch the games as the field was catastrophic. ”

In France, the lawn is a parameter neglected by the sports management during the tactical preparation of professional teams. “French clubs do not always understand what is needed to have a good playing field: equipment in the basement, financial investment, machinery, the quality of lawnmowers, the quality of gardeners and their qualifications. Jonathan Calderwood remarked. “It’s a real difference from England. ”

In the Premier League, the advice of the gardeners is closely followed and a team, as prestigious as it may be, may not train in his stadium if the head of the field believes he still has work. Such power of decision is unthinkable for a French gardener. “You have to love a lawn, breathe it, feel what it needs,” said Tony Stones, another English ground manager, responsible for the Stade de France’s lawn.

The British romanticism of a lawn pampered by his gardener has therefore not entered the French mores, even if the League of Professional Football (LFP) instructed, in 2015, Jonathan Calderwood to give courses and advice to his counterparts French. And, thanks to him, Paris won four times the title of “best lawn of L1”.

Last season, Guingamp took the title to everyone’s surprise. Proof that a club’s tight budget can not fully justify a lawn in bad shape. “There is a lack of financial means but also useful questions that clubs do not arise, such as the search for the best substrate,” says one at Covergarden, the first lawn producing company in France.

The installation of a lawn costs, according to its characteristics, between 500 000 and 1.5 million euros. A cost perceived by the president of Guingamp, Bertrand Desplat, as a necessary sport investment. More than 1.3 million euros spent but playing conditions superior and durable at the Roudourou stadium.

In case of problems, French clubs have the reflex to change the lawn in its entirety. This is the last decision taken at Groupama Stadium in Lyon. In a deplorable state against Amiens during the first day, OL and the company in charge of the maintenance of the grounds decided to order new rolls of

turf. “When you run out of time, the only solution is to replace the entire lawn. Care work upstream would have been the best solution, “says the company.

The football stadiums are the scene of disastrous cultural events for the good health of the turf. In June, the Lyon area hosted the “Monster Jam”, an entertainment where mechanical devices perform acrobatic tricks and crash on car carcasses. In Lorient, the Moustoir stadium is currently impassable after the passage of the Interceltic Festival while the season of Ligue 2 has already begun. The next home game of “Merlus” will be played in Bordeaux and behind closed doors, a real punishment for the fans of Brittany.

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