Our pace of life has changed dramatically
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

Now well into our national UK Covid -19 lockdown, we are now starting to get the message to STAY AT HOME - which can only be a good thing for the long-term recovery of our nation.

The last two weeks has given me time to reflect, during this unprecedented emergency, on what it means to us as human beings.

It has without doubt brought about a significant change in our behaviour. We are now going about our business with a different mental attitude and are showing a lot of compassion to our fellow human beings.
The hustle and bustle of how we used to be has almost vanished. I, like most of us, have got into a totally different routine, finding the time to speak and check on friends and family and where possible, offer support to neighbours and friends if they need it.


Our pace of life has changed dramatically during these last few weeks. The roads are far quieter with little or no traffic, far less people milling around and high streets are deserted. There almost feels like an everlasting calm before the storm?

I suspect I am not alone in wondering what the final outcome of all this will be and how long it'll be before normality as we knew it, creeps back into our lives?

The "Clap for Carers" tribute, saluting NHS and key workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, was an defining moment for me in that we as a nation showed our respects and valued the work all these frontline people are offering to stop this virus and help save lives.

I don’t think anybody in this country or around the world can comprehend the devastation this virus has and will cause if we do not adhere to the experts’ advice. I sure it is going to take some time to eradicate the destructive nature of this virus and we will have to learn to live with it until a successful vaccine is produced.

I also think, that once we get into larger scale testing for this virus, we will be in a better position to prevent the spread and reduce the impact.

We may also be facing further measures if required, but in the meantime, life must go on in terms of keeping people safe and services running. There is now talk of the lockdown continuing for up to six months or longer. This will no doubt have a dramatic effect on our national sporting calendar.


The RFU have confirmed that the season will not be completed and have confirmed league positions for all clubs along with an offer of a support package directly funded from the RFU worth £7m to provide support for community clubs in England.


The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have announced a delay to the professional cricket season with the Board agreeing that no professional cricket will be played in England and Wales before 28 May. Along with a major announcement that the ECB is providing a £61 million package to help cricket withstand the financial impact of COVID-19, with financial assistance available at every level of the game – across counties, boards and clubs.  Also in an article in The Times, cricket groundsmen have suggested that the season could continue on into October this year if need be.


In Spain Lionel Messi and the rest of his Barcelona team are facing 70% pay cuts to help keep wage and salary payments to non-sporting club staff during the crisis. A lot of British clubs are now following suit with managers and players offering to take pay reviews to help the situation. The FA have also announced an update on non-league, women’s and grass roots football seasons.



The LTA, in conjunction with the All England Club, the ITF, ATP and WTA, has regrettably announced the cancellation of its summer Grass Court events and the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships following the latest advice from the UK Government and the suspension of professional tennis due to the escalating pandemic.


Clubs, County Associations and Bowls England are facing a period where there is the loss of regular income whilst there are overheads and bills to be paid. Sport England and the Government has put in place a number of initiatives to assist clubs and small companies during this period of uncertainty.

We have also seen the postponement of several large sporting events, with the Olympic games being one of the main ones to be affected. Other major tournaments affected include Euro 2020, the London Marathon and Wimbledon deciding to postpone to next year. It would seem we are going to have a very busy 2021?

As mentioned in last week’s blog, many groundsmen will be still trying to continue to work, getting the essential basic maintenance tasks completed such as mowing, feeding and watering.

I would imagine, most end of season renovations, major drainage jobs and any new pitch builds will be put on hold, based on the fact that many contractors and suppliers are in shutdown mode at present and may have a shortage of staff and resources to undertake the work anyway?



I also do feel sorry for many of our machinery dealers and manufacturers who at this time of the year expect a surge in sales. This virus however, has put a complete stop on many of their trading for the foreseeable future and may even have longer term effects on their business if we do not see an end to this by late summer.


Many grassroots sports clubs will be facing uncertainty, with little or no income generation coming in during the period of lockdown. I firmly believe bowling clubs will face the most difficult time. This is mainly due to the fact that over many years we have seen a general decline in club memberships and the fact these members generally pay a low annual membership fee of anything between £30-£50 which for a club with say a 100 members would only raise between £3,000-£5000 pounds - barely enough to cover the maintenance and renovation of the clubs green. I know of a lot a clubs in Shropshire that only have 60 members. So the future for some bowls clubs will no doubt be in jeopardy.

Perhaps an idea to help clubs get back on track would be for them to invite schools to come and use their facilities on a regular basis? To initiate the opportunity for children to come and enjoy the bowling experience. If done regularly, maybe both the parents and children would become interested and later support the club?

Rugby and cricket clubs should, I hope, be better able to cope, as in the main, many of them are well supported with over 300 plus members (both juniors and seniors) and should be able to withstand the financial pressures during the temporary closure.

As for golf clubs, they too will no doubt be suffering hardship from this lockdown, however, like many other top end sports facilities, they will still need to maintain there playing surfaces to retain playability.


The newly named, Grounds Management Association, has been working with sports governing bodies and agencies to put together some advice for the sports turf industry on Covid -19 

I also manged to speak to a number of local authority officers last week, who said that their councils are re-deploying many of their grounds staff to other service aeras - notably food deliveries, bins collections and cemetery duties.

Chris Worman MBE. FLI Parks & Grounds Manager for Rugby Borough Council said, “With all grounds maintenance activities suspended as non-essential work, our gardeners and grounds staff are supporting the most vulnerable members of our community via the distributing and sorting of food and essential items via the foodbank or local community hubs.”

There seems to be a mix of views on what is essential maintenance work and what is not. Some local authorities are only doing what is deemed essential, while others are still maintaining their parks and grass verges to ensure they remain viable and open to the public.

With some many of us working from home or indeed laid off temporally, it seems that a lot of jobs around the house and garden are being completed. I don’t think my house has ever been cleaned so much plus the garden is having a makeover.


I read with interest a recent report from the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) that states there is a lot of scientific evidence that shows how gardening and being in the garden will help to keep you well. 

However, with most garden centres closed, it brings a another set of problems for this retail industry. Millions of plants, shrubs and trees could be binned in the coming days and weeks, meaning ruin for UK growers.

The closure of 2,000 garden centres and nurseries mean makers of what's called "ornamental horticulture" have no outlet for their plants. 


The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is asking the government for financial assistance of up to £250m to help the industry avoid collapse. It warned that up to a third of producers could go bust. 

I do sincerely hope you all are keeping safe and abiding by our government’s advice. The only way we are going to beat this virus is by heeding to the advice of staying home and social distancing.

Yes, we are facing difficult times, however I firmly believe we will overcome this pandemic and we will have a totally new attitude and way we go about our daily lives in the coming years.

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