Earlier this week, PFA Scotland rightly called on the SPFL to ban artificial surfaces from the top flight – as reported by The Telegraph.
A quarter of the clubs in the Premiership play on plastic with Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers known to be a fierce critic of the surfaces.
Last February, Dedryck Boyata and Nir Bitton picked up medium-term injuries when Celtic fell to a 1-0 defeat at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park and those injuries can hit players financially too.
No Celtic player is going to plead poverty but appearance and win bonuses can add up to 50% to the wages of many players in the top flight.
That’s one of the issues PFA Scotland chairman Liam Craig flagged up, with The Telegraph quoting him as saying…
“Movements such as running, turning and tackling on the pitch also have a negative impact on the body which inevitably affects a players performance. Players often say it takes longer to recover after playing on an artificial pitch. This can not only effect future performances, but also team selection.
“If a player takes longer to recover, a manager may not select them for games on these surfaces or for a game after playing on them. A decision based on this sees a player suffer financially – the player could not only miss out on bonuses and appearance money but could find themselves out of the team for a longer period purely down to a game being played on an artificial surface.”
And it’s not a great experience for fans of the game either. You are highly unlikely to watch a decent game on plastic – don’t expect a thriller at Kilmarnock on Sunday when the reigning champions come to Rugby Park.
Playing on plastic requires a different type of game; players can’t go at it 100% because an awkward turn can lead to a lengthy absence.
If it’s bad for both players and fans then they should be banned – clubs can relay them elsewhere and still bring in revenue from round the clock use.
Motherwell have a similar income to Kilmarnock, Livingston and Hamilton but their grass pitch has won awards in recent seasons.
Scottish football can’t compete with their wealthy neighbours down the road but insisting on grass would certainly improve the credibility of our game, while protecting players from loss of earnings and providing more entertainment for supporters.
In a nutshell, plastic prohibition is a no-brainer.