Dundee boss Jim McIntyre backs call for ban on artificial pitches

Dundee manager Jim McIntyre claims there is enough revenue in the top flight to insist on grass pitches.

Kilmarnocks artificial pitch is a different type to the one at Livingston which Dundee manager Jim McIntyre says is unacceptable. Picture: SNS
Kilmarnocks artificial pitch is a different type to the one at Livingston which Dundee manager Jim McIntyre says is unacceptable. Picture: SNS

PFA Scotland has delivered a petition to the Scottish Professional Football League – signed by every player from the nine clubs with grass pitches – calling for artificial surfaces to be banned in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Players from the three clubs with artificial pitches were not asked to sign.

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Scottish league bosses have vowed to listen to the players’ concerns but stressed their inspections of the surfaces have been praised for their thoroughness.

Dundee manager Jim McIntyre has backed calls to ban plastic pitches. Pic: SNS

McIntyre’s biggest complaint about the pitches is their inconsistency as he backed the calls ahead of Saturday’s trip to face Livingston on their plastic surface at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

McIntyre, who managed Queen of the South for just over a year on an artificial pitch, said: “It’s a different surface. I found it fine but I don’t think it should be allowed at the top level.

“I can understand clubs at lower levels putting that in because obviously the revenue it brings, you can rent it out and (it) gives you extra money. But I think at the top level there’s enough revenue for grass pitches.

“My big gripe about plastic pitches is they are all different. Kilmarnock’s is totally different to Livingston’s. Having been to Falkirk several times and Queen of the South this year, they are all completely different.

“If it’s going to be allowed it should be the same spec everywhere.”

McIntyre accepts there are no conclusive studies showing artificial pitches cause more injuries but he believes anecdotal evidence should be taken into account.

“People ask you whether you are going to train on a plastic pitch leading up to playing on it,” he said. “I wouldn’t train on it the whole week because my players aren’t used to training on it the whole week, and I know there’s a difference to how their bodies feel on a grass pitch. At Queen of the South we had to monitor our training times, because it’s harder on the body.

“I wasn’t a fan of it as a player and I’m still not a fan of it, but I can understand why clubs at a lower level have them.”

The support of nine clubs in the Premiership would be enough to amend the rules over playing surfaces as long as there was also a 75 per cent vote in favour both among Championship clubs and also the 20 clubs in the two lower leagues.

However, no club has approached the Scottish Professional Football League about changing the regulations.

An SPFL spokesperson said: “It’s very important that we listen to the views of players.

“It’s also important to note that every one of the artificial pitches used in the SPFL is independently inspected and certified by accredited Fifa experts to ensure it meets the very strict international quality and performance standards at the highest level set by Fifa.

“Artificial pitches in the Ladbrokes Premiership are additionally subject to multiple random and unannounced match-day inspections by independent certified and accredited Fifa experts, throughout each season, to ensure they are properly maintained and that they meet the exacting Fifa Quality Pro performance standards.

“These inspections have demonstrated that with a high standard of care and maintenance, which has been consistently achieved by all of our Premiership clubs, top-level artificial pitches can continue to meet the exacting performance standards set by Fifa.

“The SPFL is understood to be the first professional league across the world to introduce a system of random inspection against Fifa performance standards in its top division and it has been widely praised for the thoroughness of its system. This is the third season in which this system has been in operation.

“Whilst there will inevitably be ongoing debate on the relative merits of grass and artificial pitches, their use is approved by the SPFL and many other leagues and national associations all over the world and is sanctioned at all levels by the laws of football.

“Ultimately, this is a matter for SPFL clubs, but we have had no approaches from any such club to change the current rules or arrangements.

“We look forward to further dialogue with PFA Scotland on this important issue.”