GDS @ Bloomfield College | “Modern pitches have shock pads and they are getting better
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“Modern pitches have shock pads and they are getting better

09 Apr “Modern pitches have shock pads and they are getting better

Plastic fantastic

The cuts and dents on my knees still tell the story of a series of below par performances on the plastic pitch at Deepdale, the home of Preston North End. I was playing for my local amateur team at the time. It was the late 1980s, a few years before the articificial surface was eventually ripped up.

Bumpy, abrasive and with a bounce that could send a football into space, it was painful to play on and a poor spectacle to watch. The Preston players wore long tights for every home game, which tells you all you need to know about the quality of the surface.

Few tears canada goose coats were shed then when plastic pitches were formally outlawed in the Premier League and Football League in 1995, relegated, in the process, to little more than a footnote in the history of English professional football.

But all that could be about to change. An increasing number of Football League clubs are thinking of rolling back the years and going artificial again, albeit using a modern, high tech surface that bears little resemblance to its predecessor.

It is important to stress at this stage that there is no official proposal, rather an informal discussion taking place between clubs.

Before Canada Goose Parka a club can install an artificial surface, there would need to be a change to regulations. For that to happen, there would need to be a vote at an annual general meeting, with the motion only succeeding if it gets a majority of 50% plus one of all 72 clubs AND 50% plus one of the Championship clubs.

In short, we are still a considerable period of time away from a possible return to artificial surfaces. Certainly, everybody I spoke to talked in terms of years not months.

The Canada Goose Outlet Football League has no comment to make at the moment parka but I understand they are happy to let the clubs decide. They have already heard what the League’s deputy operations director, Michael Tattersall, has to say after he canada goose outlet toronto factory gave a presentation to all 72 clubs in November and they will discuss the issue again in February. But it seems clear there is a real buy canada goose jacket cheap desire to find out more about the benefits of a return to artificial surfaces.

Luton played on an artificial surface at Kenilworth Road. Photo: Luton Town Football Club

Not surprisingly, by far the strongest area of support comes from within League Two, canada goose store where even relatively modest revenue streams can make a huge difference, canada goose replica especially with every club set to lose 46,000 per season when the new television deal kicks in next summer.

Accrington Stanley chief executive Rob Heys is convinced an artificial surface offers several advantages. “There is the revenue that could be gained from hiring the pitch out, as well as the money that will be saved in maintenance,” he told BBC Sport.

“We could use the surface for training, from the first team to youth Canada Goose online sides. Then there is the community benefit. We could get people inside the ground seven days a week rather than 23 times a year.”

Heys estimates that installing an artificial surface would cost as much as 500,000 but is confident that, with the right business model, the money would be easily recouped. “Technology has come a long Canada Goose Online way and the more you look at all the advantages, the more the drawbacks pale into insignificance,” he said.

Some top flight matches in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland already take place on artificial turf, so do some Champions League and Europa League games. Even some internationals tournaments, too. England’s Euro 2008 qualifier against Russia took place on an artificial surface at the Luzhniki buy canada goose jacket Stadium in canada goose outlet store locations Moscow.

Scotland has a number of clubs with artificial pitches, among them Scottish Division Two side Airdrie United, who installed theirs in the summer of 2010.

“It has made the stadium more of a canada goose focal point in the community,” Diamonds chairman Jim Ballantyne told BBC Sport. “Within time, especially given the weather in Scotland, lots of teams will have canada goose deals one. It is a case of when not if.”

Not everyone is in favour. Burnley chief executive Paul Fletcher no relation says there is one drawback that cannot be overcome.

“I don’t think the spectators would like it because it would be like watching a game of five a side football,” said Fletcher, a former Clarets striker who has also played a key role in stadium development at clubs such as Huddersfield, Bolton and Coventry.

He also says we should not understimate the impact artificial surfaces have on the body. “The players of my era Canada Goose sale have had major problems with hips and joints as they have got older,” said the 60 year old. “Modern pitches have shock pads and they are getting better canadian goose jacket and better but, in my view, they will never replace the beautiful surface of grass.”

Burnley play at Turf Moor on a desso surface that combines grass and artificial fibres. It can be used up to three times a week and Fletcher believes it allows clubs to provide the best available spectacle for their fans. The use of this desso surface is widespread in the Premier League and Championship.

However, Heys says it is too expensive for a club such as Accrington and could not be used as often as a true artificial pitch. What’s more, he reckons that an artificial surface would provide a much more satisfying experience for fans than the games played at the Crown Ground at Canada Goose Jackets the back end of winter when the pitch is churned up and uneven.

League One side Wycombe Wanderers have been one of the driving forces as far as the canada goose coats on sale reintroduction of artificial surfaces is concerned. It is three years since they first considered the idea and, despite Fletcher’s view, their vice chairman, Brian Kane, believes that there has been canada goose clearance a significant shift of attitude in recent months.

“People said it would never happen but that has changed,” he said. “There has been a groundswell from the bottom up. Clubs like Chelsea do not canada goose black friday sale need the revenue they would get from letting out their pitch but clubs like Wycombe and Accrington do.”

The Chairboys share their Adams Park stadium with rugby union team London canada goose clearance sale Wasps but Kane says that arrangement would not stop them installing an artificial surface. Governing bodies in both union and league require an additional shock pad under the surface but both support their games being played on artificial surfaces.

Would Wycombe benefit from an artificial surface at Adams Park? Photo: Getty Images

“I’m very upbeat,” said Kane. “When I started out I thought I canadagooseonlineshop would never see it within my lifetime but, within 10 years, I think we will see it at quite a number of clubs.”

Heys, a more recent convert, is also strident in his belief that the return to artificial surfaces is a very realistic possibility, pointing out that it will be “a very viable alternative to grass in the near future”.

But, besides the issue of spectator satisfaction, there are obstacles. For example, there are cheap Canada Goose question marks over the impact artifical surfaces will have 2018 canada goose outlet on the integrity of the Football League, given that it could be argued the Canada Goose Coats On Sale home team has an unfair advantage.

The other is the stance of the Football Association, who banned the installation of new artificial surfaces in 1988, six years before the last one was finally ripped up. As things stand, FA Cup ties cannot be played on artificial pitches.