By Tony Alvarez
It has been revealed that a few clubs in the Football leagues are backing the return of artificial pitches into the professional game inEngland.
Clubs such as Wycombe Wanderers and Accrington Stanley have backed the idea due to lower costs of maintenance and also the increased revenue streams of it being able to be used 7 days a week without suffering damage, this would allow the clubs to train on the pitch as well as hiring out their facilities.
Whilst it is currently thought that the plan is being discussed by all 72 Football League clubs the majority of the Championship are thought to be against installing artificial pitches as Premier League rules state you must play on grass the Championship sides do not want to install something that could have to be removed in less than a year.
Of course artificial or Astroturf pitches are nothing new to English football with Luton Town, Oldham Athletic, Preston North End and Queens Park Rangers all possessing artificial pitches until they were outlawed by the Football Association in the late 1980s, although Preston continued to use theirs until the end of the 1993-94 season.
The pitches were outlawed due to fears over player safety and arguments that they caused a poor brand of Football to be played, however since then technological means the pitches have come on massively and take aside the top few pitches in the country artificial pitches are as consistent.
Artificial pitches are always completely flat by nature meaning no bobbles and as they don’t suffer from wear and tear you do not get unplayable areas as you see in many goal mouths and centre circles in the Football League.
They tend to play faster than grass especially when wet which could add to the fast football which is already played in England, unless there is such a thing as too fast which I don’t believe there is I don’t think artificial pitches would be detrimental to the quality of Football.
The player safety issue is a good one whilst technological advances mean they are a lot safer than in the 80’s hence FIFA’s acceptance of them and many teams throughout the world using them I do believe that grass is safer.
Whilst you can get your studs stuck in grass which causes more horrific injuries, Astroturf pitches are a lot harder meaning and fall hurts a lot more. As well as the hardness of the pitches I feel defenders would be less happy with any change, slide tackles can still not be properly perfected on artificial pitches without a carpet burn effect, the same can be said for any player taken down by a slide tackle, bloody knees would happen numerous times per match.
Whilst a bloody knee is unlikely to cause grave pain think of the amount of stoppages as players have to leave the field as you cannot play with any blood coming from your body.
As mentioned above both FIFA and UEFA already sanction the use of artificial pitches, you may remember England losing to Russia on an artificial pitch in a euro 2008 qualifier or Tottenham losing to Young Boys in a Champions League qualifier last season on an artificial pitch.
Whilst those cases are in Russia and Switzerland there are artificial pitches a lot closer to home, many teams in the lower divisions of the Scottish Leagues use them as they cost less to maintain and do not get damaged in the bad weather.
I happen to know many sides currently have artificial pitches at their training ground, Arsenal’s London Colney training ground has numerous out door grass pitches but also has indoor artificial pitches.
For me it is a tough call I am all for clubs to maximise their revenue by having cheaper maintenance as well as hiring out their pitches not to mention the reduction of postponements it would bring with it.
However I am not for a game that has to stop 10 times per match for a player to go off and get treated for a blood wound, the positives do out weigh the negatives but the negative is a pretty big one, if it could be proved that their would not be numerous blood wounds I am all for a club making their choice whether they want grass or an artificial pitch.
What are your thoughts? Are you for the use of artificial pitches? Would there be numerous blood injuries on artificial pitches? Do technological advantages mean the quality of Football is not affected? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts
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