Steve Clarke refuses to get involved in plastic pitch row with Rangers

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Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke refused to get involved in Rangers players’ claims that the Rugby Park surface was responsible for ending Jamie Murphy’s season but stressed that injuries happen on grass pitches too.

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Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke. Picture: SNS

Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke. Picture: SNS

The likes of Allan McGregor and Wes Foderingham called for artificial pitches to be banned after Murphy suffered cruciate ligament damage after appearing to get his studs caught on the surface.

PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart also called for clubs to listen to players’ concerns over the standard of pitches.

Clarke said: “First of all the most important thing to say is we are all disappointed when any player gets a serious injury, on any surface, not just artificial. They get injured on grass pitches.

“For Jamie we wish him a speedy and full recovery and hope he is back playing as soon as possible. That’s the most important thing out of the whole incident.”

When pressed further on the comments from Rangers players, Clarke said: “I’m not getting involved in that, why should I get involved in that? I work for a club that’s got an artificial pitch.

“We train on it every day. Is our injury record any worse than anybody else’s? We train on it every day and play on it every second week.

“For Kilmarnock, the initial decision to put down that pitch was financial, and it has benefited the club financially because it’s in a much more secure financial footing than it was 10 years ago when it almost went bankrupt. So the benefits are there.

“We can’t lift the plastic pitch this year so there’s no point getting into a discussion about it because it can’t come up, it’s there for the season. We have to play on it and train on it and that’s what we’ll do.”

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard claimed elite football should be played on grass after his side’s 3-1 Betfred Cup win last Sunday.

Clarke said: “There’s a mechanism in place if SPFL clubs don’t want plastic pitches. If clubs don’t want plastic pitches they can vote them out, but I would suggest they are not going to do that because they have allowed Livingston to put a plastic pitch down this year, Hamilton have just relaid a plastic pitch. And don’t forget plastic pitches are used all over the world.

“It’s funny, I was talking a few weeks ago now with Chris Burke and he said his young lad doesn’t know anything other than a plastic pitch. It’s all he has over known, training and playing, so for him playing on grass is the change.

“Maybe in the future, the next generation will be more accepting of a plastic pitch.”

Hearts are the latest club to visit Rugby Park when the early Ladbrokes Premiership leaders travel to Killie on Saturday with the hosts also defending an unbeaten league record.

“It’s still early in the season, everyone is trying to find their feet,” Clarke said.

“It’s too early to get carried away with a couple of wins and too early to get carried away with a couple of defeats. We are all looking to see where we think we are going to pitch up in the league.

“Hearts will definitely be a contender for a top-six place, there is no doubt about that, and hopefully we will be too.”