Brendan Rodgers calls for government aid to ditch plastic pitches

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is a longstanding opponent of plastic pitches. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is a longstanding opponent of plastic pitches. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
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Brendan Rodgers has called for national and local government intervention to banish artificial playing surfaces from the Premiership.

The Celtic manager takes his side to face Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Stadium tomorrow, one of three top flight grounds with synthetic pitches. Along with the other 3G surfaces at Hamilton Accies and Kilmarnock, it is Fifa-approved and the Scottish Professional Football League have shown no inclination to discourage clubs from moving away from natural grass.

But Rodgers, pictured, insists the image of the Premiership is being damaged by the artificial surfaces, along with the standard of football played on them.

While he appreciates the financial incentive for clubs from wider community use beyond matchdays, Rodgers believes that is the responsibility of councils.

He said: “The Premiership is the flagship of Scottish football and there should not be astroturf pitches in it. Simple as that.

“I also think that the clubs which do have them probably need some help as well. They obviously need to generate money, that’s why they do it. “But let’s see if government, if councils, can help the teams that have them find an artificial pitch somewhere else close by and let the main stadiums be grass.

“I respect and understand all the other stuff that comes with the community clubs. It’s not just their fault. They need help. So can we, in football and in government, help those clubs?

“St Johnstone have got a lovely grass pitch at McDiarmid Park and just outside of it they have an astroturf pitch to make the money from the community. If they need to train and work there, that’s what they do.

“We have to promote a standard in the Premiership, because it is beamed around the world. I’m not sure artificial pitches are what we want to promote.”

The Livingston pitch will play a part in Rodgers’ team selection, with Croatian defender Filip Benkovic unlikely to be risked in case it aggravates an Achilles problem.

PFA Scotland also oppose artificial surfaces after overwhelmingly negative feedback from their members in a recent survey. Rodgers is not convinced the pitches are more likely to cause serious injuries but is concerned about the quality of football.

“It’s just about standards,” he added. “I’m not so sure about the injury thing. You’ll get injuries on good pitches. It’s about standards and about the quality of the game for supporters. I have never seen a good game on an astroturf pitch.