Artificial football pitches were first introduced to English football back in the 1980’s when 4 clubs (QPR, Luton, Preston and Oldham) all installed ‘astro-turf’ style playing surfaces.
Nightmare stories of player injuries, carpet burns and questionable ball bounce unfortunately meant that the plastic carpets were soon dug up and eventually banned from English professional football.
However, artificial pitches have come on a long way since the 80’s the debate has gained more and more traction in the media, with recent events pushing the debate further into the spotlight.
This summer, the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada was instrumental in raising the profile of women’s football along with the question of artificial pitches in major tournaments.
In fact, it was only a tied vote by League One and Two club chairmen last November that prevented artificial pitches becoming a permanent fixture in this season’s Football League!
Artificial grass in football has evolved drastically since the first models were brought out and now it is safer, more realistic and more durable than ever!
Regional Facilities and Investment Manager for the FA, Lee Ryder, recently pointed out… “The technology has moved on at such a pace since those days. QPR’s artificial pitch was basically a carpet laid on a concrete base.
“3G pitches are not going to replace grass but they will complement the grass pitch football division.”
It seems that FA are increasingly of the opinion that artificial 3G and 4G pitches are the best way for lower league clubs to save money and become more sustainable.
Helen Grant, who was Minister for Sport at the time, stated earlier this year: “Good facilities such as 3G pitches are crucial to encourage and sustain participation as well as help develop the next generation of talent.”
Artificial pitches can benefit clubs in so many ways. Maintenance costs are minimal compared to natural playing and training surfaces and good quality turf can actually prevent player injuries.
Clubs could also benefit from renting out their pitch to a range of other clubs when the football seasons over. Artificial grass is so durable that there are few sports which would have a negative impact on the surface meaning that clubs could lend their pitch to virtually any other sports club.