19 Dec 2012

Artificial Turf in English Football?

There are rumours going around that the Football League are showing increased interest in Artificial Turf and look to bring the surface back after it being banned in 1995. In the 1980s 4 clubs, Preston, QPR, Luton and Oldham opted for the use of artificial turf over regulation grass, mainly for many of the reasons it is being reconsidered at the moment.

Unfortunately in 1989 the FA decided to review the quality of the turf and with the standards being significantly lower than they are these days they banned the turf altogether, meaning that the clubs had to revert back to the regulation grass with immediate effect.

These days though the turf has became a prominent feature within the European Leagues with teams such as AC Nancy of the French Ligue 2, FC Spartak of the Russian Premier League, Aalesunds FK of the Swedish Premier League and these are only a few who have opted for the sleeker modern turf, some having them in place since as early as 2005 aswell.

Although having a higher initial cost the turf has its obvious benefits in the long run:

Easier to maintain (all weather turf)

Fewer games will be called off due to waterlogged pitches etc.

It can generate the club more income by opening the stadium for outside events such as concerts or rugby games without it having a negative effect on the pitch

It can save the club money by letting the first, reserve and youth teams train and play on the same pitch.

On the flip side of those benefits we have a few down falls, mainly coming from the opposition, teams who have played on these pitches but who don’t play on them all of the time have complained that the home team has an advantage over them (as they play and train on the turf so they are used to the feelings and effects of it), the ball behaves differently than it would on a natural grass pitch and also that the turf makes players more suseptable to injury as a result of continuous use. Although there is no evidence to support any of these claims, the FA still has to listen and consult all the avenues and situations before ultimately decided on a rule change.

I think that we should have artificial turf at all levels of football because it is becoming more real as the years go by, I play on 4G and 3G turf a lot and I can honestly say that it is much easier to manouvere, control and also shoot the ball compared to natural grass. Now don’t get your hopes up, we are a long way off the Premier League enforcing the turf, the lower leagues may have to give in to the plastic and change their traditional ways if lower league football is to move forward as a sport.

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