SPFL clubs unite to slam 'grossly unfair' plans to ban artificial surfaces in Scottish Premiership

Proposals branded ‘fundamentally flawed’ as clubs call for public debate

A group of SPFL clubs have raised concerns over "grossly unfair" plans to ban artificial pitches from the Scottish Premiership.

Top flight clubs are set to vote on a proposal to phase out the use of artificial surfaces in the top flight by the start of the 2026/27 season. The vote, which has been sanctioned by the SPFL board, will be carried if nine of the 12 Premiership clubs vote in favour of the ban. With Livingston relegated, Kilmarnock are the sole remaining side in the top division with a plastic pitch, but have plans in place to revert to grass at the end of next season.

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Four SPFL clubs who currently have artificial pitches - Raith Rovers, Hamilton Accies, Falkirk and Queen of the South - have publicly condemned the “fundamentally flawed" proposals and called for a public debate on the matter.

Raith Rovers are among four clubs to release a joint statement condemning the move to ban plastic pitches from the Scottish Premiership. (Photo by Euan Cherry / SNS Group)Raith Rovers are among four clubs to release a joint statement condemning the move to ban plastic pitches from the Scottish Premiership. (Photo by Euan Cherry / SNS Group)
Raith Rovers are among four clubs to release a joint statement condemning the move to ban plastic pitches from the Scottish Premiership. (Photo by Euan Cherry / SNS Group)

A joint statement read: “In response to the proposal to ban artificial playing surfaces in the Scottish Premiership, over the past few months we have sought constructive dialogue with both the SPFL Competitions Working Group (CWG) and directly with Scottish Premiership clubs.

“We have done so because we believe the proposal to be fundamentally flawed on a number of levels and, if approved, will cause significant long-term damage to Scottish football by undermining sporting integrity, impacting the wider game and creating huge financial entry barriers to the top league.

“We unreservedly support the Premiership clubs desire to ensure that playing surfaces are always of a high quality, so worked together to create what we believe to be a constructive and well-considered alternative proposal, which we are publishing today.

“We recently had the opportunity to present our ideas to both the Competitions Working Group and those Premiership clubs not involved in the CWG, and we thank them for taking the time to listen to us.

“We are, however, disappointed to learn that the Premiership clubs intend to proceed to a vote on a blanket ban of artificial surfaces from season 2026/27, and that none of the elements of our alternative proposal have been adopted or incorporated into their final proposal.

“We are publishing our paper today to promote a public debate on the subject. Our view is that this decision is poorly thought through, and we do not believe it is acceptable for just twelve clubs to make this decision, which could have a long-lasting and negative impact on Scottish football, as serious as the ill-fated 10,000-seat stadium rule.

“We believe that all clubs with the ability and ambition to reach the Premiership should be encouraged to do so, without having unnecessary barriers being created to demotivate and disincentivise them.”

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Raith could win promotion to the top flight if they overcome Ross County in this week's Premiership play-off final, with the first leg due to take place at Stark's Park on Thursday night ahead of the decider in Dingwall on Sunday.

The statement added: "The costs associated with achieving the highest possible standard of grass pitches, year-round, could be more than £750k per annum, with a large percentage of this attributed to the electricity required to fuel grass growth lamps. It is therefore very difficult for the majority of Scottish clubs to achieve the highest possible standard of playing surface, as it is cost prohibitive. There’s no question that a top-quality, UEFA-approved artificial surface is far superior, in every respect, than a sub-standard grass pitch, which we routinely see in the winter months of Scottish football.

"Clubs with artificial surfaces have invested huge sums of money into the installation of pitches and infrastructure, at a time when the artificial pitches were fully compliant with the criteria in place. The goal posts are now being moved, with no consideration given to the consequences of such a decision on many clubs who will not get a vote on the matter.

"We believe this to be grossly unfair and contrary to the solidarity promised in 2013, when the SPFL was formed by merging the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League. Indeed, these unilateral actions are strongly reminiscent of the old SPL.

"Should this vote pass, we are concerned that there have been no lessons learned from past mistakes, particularly in relation to the 10,000-seat stadium rule. If this is to be the case, financial support for those clubs impacted is essential, if there is to be any semblance of sporting integrity and justice in this decision."



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