‘Ban plastic pitches from Scottish Premiership’ say top-flight players

Scotland’s top-flight footballers have called for plastic pitches in the Premiership to be banned in what their union boss Fraser Wishart described as “a strong, powerful message” to the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL).

Furthermore, those playing in the Championship and Leagues One and Two want a blanket policy to ensure all surfaces – artificial or grass – are maintained to the highest possible standard.

The move comes after wide consultations by PFA Scotland with its members which resulted in Premiership players signing a petition for the abolition of synthetic pitches at that level.

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Players from Hamilton Accies, Kilmarnock and Livingston were not asked to participate as those three clubs use artificial surfaces and it was deemed unfair on them to potentially put them in a difficult position.

Daryl Horgan in action for Hibs on Livingston's artificial turf. Picture: SNS Group

St Johnstone midfielder Liam Craig, chairman of the players’ union, said: “Players believe that removing artificial surfaces from the top league and improving them throughout the SPFL Championship, League One and League Two will have a positive impact on our game in Scotland.

“The inconsistency of artificial surfaces at the top level is a major factor on how the game is played by players. The ball rolls and bounces differently which affects a player’s decision making. Movements such as running, turning and tackling on the pitch also have a negative impact on the body which inevitably affects a player’s performance.”

Former Hibs captain Craig claimed players say it takes longer to recover from playing on such surfaces which could lead to them losing in their place in the team and so missing out on bonuses and appearance money.

Wishart said: “This is a strong, powerful message from our members, those that actually play the game. It is abundantly clear from our conversations with all 42 squads our members feel passionately about Scottish football and care about the image and perception of the game they love.

“Football is, of course, an entertainment industry, but our members do not enjoy playing on artificial,surfaces in particular.

“The SPFL recently agreed television contracts meaning Premiership matches will be seen all over the world. This can only be good for Scottish football which is in a good place now.

“To keep improving and to capitalise on the feel good factor, our members are of the view that having quality pitches to play on is of vital importance.

“Our members in the Premiership want to see regulation in place that will ensure all Premiership pitches are grass which are maintained to the highest standards.

“In all divisions our members feel artificial surfaces are often over-used and the priority seems to be community use, not first team matches, therefore these surfaces drop in standard very quickly.”