Recently there has been a lot of debate about whether artificial grass is the right surface for playing professional football on. This week, in English Football, League 1 & 2 club chairmen voted on whether to bring back artificial grass pitches. The result of the vote was a tie, which means they won’t be used next season, however there is a strong feeling that this change could come about in future seasons.
Four English Football Clubs – Queens Park Rangers, Luton Town, Preston North End and Oldham Athletic – installed artificial grass playing surfaces in 1980s. During this time there was a growing fear that those clubs who had artificial turf pitches installed were gaining an unfair advantage over the visiting clubs so in 1995, artificial grass pitches were banned in English professional football.
This issue has been particularly highlighted with the upcoming FIFA Women’s Football World Cup in 2015, being hosted in Canada. There has been some significant opposition to the artificial pitches, which have been proposed for all 6 venues for the tournament, leading to lawsuits for sexual discrimination in the sport.
The Pros and Cons of Artificial Grass Pitches
Artificial grass, or artificial turf pitches are made up of synthetic fibres to look like a real football pitch. Since the 1980’s there have been significant technological developments with 3G pitches, meaning that the modern product is far more suitable for the modern game.
Advantages of 3G pitches include:
- They are far more robust and hardwearing
- They can be played upon as regularly as is required
- They require much mess maintenance – just cleaning
- They can be hired out and can be used for training
For lower level clubs, which have far less money to spend, all these reasons really help them to balance their books! However, there are some issues / perceived issues which the sceptics perceive. These include:
- The ball bounces differently to a grass pitch
- Friction burns are more likely
- Around £500k for an installation
- Potential for more injuries
The future for 3G pitches
Whatever the future for 3G pitches and Artificial Grass pitches in professional football, the future looks much brighter in lower league football and training environments. In October, the Football Association unveiled plans to build more than 150 new “football hubs” across the country – improving facilities by investing £230m in new 3G pitches. The plan would involve the build of over 600 all-weather 3G pitches, in 30 of the biggest UK cities.
So it would appear that despite negativity from world of professional football, artificial grass or synthetic pitches are certainly getting the thumbs up form a grassroots level (excuse the pun). And here at Nomow, we think that’s great!