'I don't like them': Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou encourages Scotland to pitch in and go Dutch

The journey the Netherlands has embarked on with synthetic surfaces should provide the lead for how Scotland deals with the abrasive issue of their presence in the country’s top flight, believes Ange Postecoglou.

Kilmarnock's Rugby Park pitch is one of two artificial surfaces in the cinch Premiership but Celtic Ange Postecoglou believes it would be preferable for there to be none in the top flight, with the game changed by playing on plastic. (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group)
Kilmarnock's Rugby Park pitch is one of two artificial surfaces in the cinch Premiership but Celtic Ange Postecoglou believes it would be preferable for there to be none in the top flight, with the game changed by playing on plastic. (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group)

Celtic’s trip to Kilmarnock will provide his team with their first challenge this season of dealing with the peculiarities inherent playing on plastic. Although commanding on their last visit to Livingston, Postecoglou’s men didn’t tend to thrive on them in his first campaign. They suffered defeats away to Bodo/Glimt and in Almondvale, as well as a difficult Scottish cup tie on Alloa’s artificial pitch. The Australian is sympathetic to the economic imperatives that underpin their use, but believes in an ideal world he would be preparing his squad for a Rugby Park encounter on grass, and that would be the case for every league game. As the Dutch are working towards, an incenstivising scheme last year introduced whereby top flight clubs with plastic pitches are offered E350,000 to switch to natural or hybrid surfaces.

"You understand the reasoning behind it, but do I like them? No,” the Celtic manager said. “I think they change the game. Do I think the top league should have them? Preferably not, but I understand why they are there and while they are there you have just got to deal with them. There's enough evidence around the world that some nations went that way – the Dutch certainly did – and they are understanding and reverting back to grass pitches because it's just more of a natural game.

“As much as the artificial pitches try to replicate what happens on a grass pitch, it's a different game. That's my preference, I don't like them, I don't think it's as good a spectacle for the supporters, which is really the ultimate business we are in. But I can understand why clubs have them. There are financial considerations that thankfully our club doesn't have to deal with. Others do, and that's why they make those decisions.”

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