By Kelly Culver
02 Nov 2023

FA Cup Eco-friendly Pitch Banners

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At the 2022 FA Cup Final, the eyes of the world weren’t just on the superstar players. The banners themselves were also revolutionary, being manufactured from plastic bottles and designed to be upcycled again after use.

The brief

The FA Cup Final is The Football Association’s showcase event, with the 2022 event being contested between Chelsea and Liverpool at the traditional venue of Wembley Stadium. As well as being a major sporting occasion, this also marked the conclusion of the event’s milestone anniversary celebrations.

The FA and Wembley Stadium required pitch banners to be revealed (and removed again) prior to kick-off. These would be seen by fans inside the stadium, and a global TV audience of hundreds of millions. The design would centre on the innovations The FA has introduced over the years, and feature the names and crests of all participating clubs.

The brief from The FA also emphasised sustainability, and stressed that the banners must be made from recycled materials and be repurposed after the final. Their goal was to set a new standard for banners at large-scale events in our industry over the coming years.

The project in numbers

1871                 The year the FA Cup competition began
150                  FA Cup finals played
729                   Teams which took part in the 2021/22 competition
47 600              Plastic bottles recycled to make the banners
151                   Military personnel who revealed and removed the banners
1.5                   Tonnes of CO2 emissions saved by using recycled materials
Pitch banner for FA Cup with fire
Emirates FA Cup Eco Friendly Pitch Banner with soldiers on
Emirates FA Cup Eco Friendly Pitch Banner with soldiers on
Emirates FA Cup Eco Friendly Pitch Banner with soldiers on

The challenge

The giant pitch banners would weigh over 700kg, and be made from an eco-fabric material. They had to be visually striking, and capable of being unveiled and removed to very exact timings as the centrepiece of the ‘banner parade’ before the match started. Post-event, the banners also had to be recovered for the next phase of their lives.

Service Graphics – adding value

Working closely with waste management specialists Veolia, and in partnership with The FA and Wembley Stadium, we designed, printed and delivered a pitch cover that would employ the world’s biggest stage to send a clear message, and leverage innovation to highlight the positive use of eco-materials rather than manufacturing from raw materials.

Service Graphics role consisted of:

  • Concept design support and coordination
  • Full consultation on eco-materials
  • In-house super-wide format printing
  • End-to-end project management
  • Full coordination with client and all project stakeholders
  • Transportation and on-field support
  • Post-match recovery and recycling

The recovered banners were then upcycled again using the latest recycling innovations to convert the material into over 1 000 items of clothing, drawstring bags and sports bibs that The FA will donate to local communities to inspire the eco-footballers of the future.

The 150th anniversary of the Emirates FA Cup Final is a momentous occasion, and we are delighted sustainability played an important role in this event. The recycled pitch banner designed and printed by Service Graphics took centre stage on match day, and importantly it will take on a second life when upcycled. The knowledge, foresight and expertise of our production partner was exceptional in helping bring a landmark project of this scale and innovation together.

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