Level Playing Field Investigated
Makes sense to talk to the players that have to deal with atrificial surfaces when they play the game.
The SFA has joined forces with PFA Scotland, the players’ union, to carry out the biggest-ever survey of professional footballers into the use of artificial surfaces. As a key part of the SFA’s strategic plan, Scotland United: A 2020 Vision, PFA Scotland have agreed to help establish the views of more than 1,000 registered professional football players in this country, to provide a more informed approach to improving facilities at all levels of the game. Extensive research has been conducted by FIFA, UEFA and other research bodies regarding the use of 3G synthetic turf in the professional game. Traditionally, Scottish football has been reluctant to fully embrace artificial surfaces, particularly at the elite professional end of the game.That view has evolved in recent years due to improvements in synthetic turf technology and the fact that games are now being played on 3G pitches in the UEFA Champions League. Until now, the views of those most directly affected have not been formally sought. The Player Survey aims to change that anomaly and provide invaluable data from those participating at the highest level of the game.The following facts make the debate on artificial surfaces all the more relevant:Seven Scottish Football League grounds now have a 3G pitch. This affects eight clubs (with Stenhousemuir and East Stirlingshire ground-sharing), equating to over 25% of SFL clubs now playing their home games on 3G. As a result, 144 league matches will be played on 3G over the course of the current season. 3G pitches are now being used in many other countries, particularly those affected by poor weather, encompassing all levels of the professional game, from SFL3 to UEFA Champions League. The use of artificial surfaces is already on the agenda for any league reconstruction proposals. Stuart Lovell, PFA Scotland: "We are delighted to work in partnership with the Scottish FA, especially on a matter that directly involves our members and, indeed, Scottish football as a whole. The debate on 3G pitches is one that has taken place for years but without any real input from those most affected by it – the players. We realise that the continual improvement in artificial pitch technology makes for a more meaningful debate and we look forward to work alongside the Scottish FA in this regard."Cameron Watt, SFA Facilities Manager: "The time has come for a comprehensive look into artificial pitch provision at all levels of the game in Scotland. Already, the Scottish FA has commissioned research by Stirling University into potential amendments to the established playing season but whenever football is played, the need for as many top-quality facilities is essential. We are delighted that PFA Scotland have agreed to assist us in establishing the views of their members on artificial surfaces and we will use that feedback to shape any recommendations in the future."
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