No place for plastic pitches in top flight says Hibs boss

Livingston's  plastic pitch at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Livingston's plastic pitch at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
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Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom has admitted that, if he had control over such matters, he would not allow 
plastic pitches in the Scottish top flight.

The Englishman takes his Leith team to West Lothian tomorrow night to face Livingston on their synthetic park and, while he accepts that he and his players just need to get on with it, as they seek to ensure a place in the top six come the league split, he refused to hide the fact that he is not a fan of artificial surfaces, confessing he was surprised to see so many in the Scottish Premiership.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t have it,” said the manager, who joined the Easter Road club last month and remains unbeaten in five league matches. “I think there is too much variance in the calibre, the standard, the time they were laid. That’s the problem with it for me.

“I remember playing at Kilmarnock for a pre-season game and that was flat already and it is still the same pitch.

“And then you’ve got Livingston, which is brand new and plays in a totally different way. It does make for a different game. But so does a boggy or a rock-hard pitch. I know we’re playing on different 
surfaces all the time. It does affect things, though.”

Heckingbottom has played friendlies on them in the past but says it is unusual for plastic pitches to be used for competitive matches at the top level in Britain and hopes that they remain in the minority.

Aware of how tough the trip to Livingston could prove, given results between the teams this term, he smiled as he said he may as well make his feelings known pre-match.

“If I am going to moan about plastic pitches, I’d be as well moaning about them now, so, if anything goes wrong, it will be down to the pitch. I don’t like them but I know that doesn’t matter. We all have them at our training facilities, we have all played on them, and we can practise on them as much as we like but we’re a team who plays the majority of our games on grass, so that’s what we’re used to. The teams who play the majority of their games on plastic pitches get the benefit of that.”