Coronavirus: Sports and Play Projects

Construction sites during the coronavirus emergency

As a result of the current emergency situation, many people are now working from home, where they can, including a large number from across the sports and play industry. So far, the UK Government’s advice is that external construction projects are allowed to continue, but only if it is possible for contractors to comply with the official guidance on social distancing and the procedures for the safe operation of sites.

This is a very considerable challenge, both for the specialist work that take place on site to build and maintain sports and play facilities, and for the industry’s workforce as people travel to and from the various projects on which they are employed. Added to that, the industry is also experiencing difficulties in obtaining the supplies of materials and products that are essential to deliver projects, and clients should be aware that a great many projects have had to be suspended for the time being. We would advise any clients that may be affected to discuss their own situation with the individual contractor (or contractors) that they have engaged.

Shutting down safely

For those that are facing the prospect of closing down a project site, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has developed a useful guide on the temporary suspension of sites. The advice looks to ensure that any closures can be achieved as safely as possible, avoiding potential issues while the site is not active. The guidance is particularly pertinent to sports and play facility operators, as owners of sites have a legal duty of care to any visitors to their sites – even in the event of trespass.

The main message is clear – even if a shutdown needs to happen quickly due to Covid-19 issues, there should be a clear, structured plan for it. You can access the full document here.

Maintenance during lockdown

As with construction work, the message from the UK Government is that, as long as social distancing regulations are adhered to and due regard for health and safety is followed, essential maintenance work at sports and play facilities can still be carried out. Indeed, it is very important that facilities should not be allowed to deteriorate, and that it will be possible to bring them back into use quickly and safely when the time comes. Advice on the maintenance required for sports and play surfaces will always be provided by the contractors and manufacturers of specific products, but general guidance on the main types of surface is available free-of-charge in the various Codes of Practice in the Guides section of the SAPCA website.

To read our guidance note on Maintaining Sports Facilities During Lockdown click here.

Planning future projects

While sports and play facilities at clubs, parks and schools across the country are currently out of action, there is no reason why work to plan for future projects cannot continue. Again, there is information and guidance on the SAPCA website on the typical “project journey” that will be followed. Click here.

Despite many sites being suspended, SAPCA member companies are very much “open for business” and can discuss with you your development plans for your sports and play facilities, providing the information and advice about all aspects of your scheme, including feasibility and funding, procurement and project management, design and construction, maintenance and testing. While it may not be possible to make site visits at present, contractors will be able to provide budget prices, quotations and tenders for projects. Most funding agencies and sports bodies will also be able to provide assistance and process applications for financial support.

Sources of advice

During the coronavirus emergency SAPCA is in close contact with sports councils, sports governing bodies, funding agencies and other key stakeholders to work together to produce and share helpful information and guidance for all those involved in developing and managing sports and play facilities.

Please visit the Guides section of the SAPCA website, but if you have any specific queries or concerns then please contact SAPCA, at or on 024 7641 6316.

We would also refer you to the special section of the Sport England website that provides an update on the coronavirus situation. As well as information about how Sport England is working to support the sector, and the recently announced £195 million package, there is useful advice about keeping active.

The sportscotland update on the support available to clubs and community sport organisations can be seen here: and their new guidance note for sports facility owners and operators can be seen here: