Clubs slam 'fundamentally flawed' SPFL plan to ban artificial pitches

Clubs say moves are 'grossly unfair' and 'poorly thought through'.

Clubs criticise ‘fundamentally flawed’ SPFL plan to ban artificial pitches SNS Group

A group of SPFL clubs have slammed plans to ban artificial pitches from the Scottish Premiership.

The SPFL board has given the go-ahead to a vote proposing to phase out the use of artificial surface in the top flight by the start of the 2026/27 season.

With Livingston being relegated, Kilmarnock are now the only club with a plastic playing surface in the division.

And they have already announced plans to return to a grass pitch at the end of next season.

Four SPFL clubs have now publicly criticised the proposed ban, saying that they have already suggested alternative ideas.

Raith Rovers, Hamilton Accies, Falkirk and Queen of the South want a public debate on the subject and say that the decision to allow a vote is “poorly thought through”.

A vote could be carried by nine of the 12 Premierhsip clubs and the critics say it’s “unacceptable” that a small number of the 42 SPFL teams get to decide.

A joint statement read: “In response to the proposal to ban artificial playing surfaces in the Scottish Premiership, over the past few months we have sought constructive dialogue with both the SPFL Competitions Working Group (CWG) and directly with Scottish Premiership clubs.  

“We have done so because we believe the proposal to be fundamentally flawed on a number of levels and, if approved, will cause significant long-term damage to Scottish football by undermining sporting integrity, impacting the wider game and creating huge financial entry barriers to the top league. 

“We unreservedly support the Premiership clubs desire to ensure that playing surfaces are always of a high quality, so worked together to create what we believe to be a constructive and well-considered alternative proposal, which we are publishing today.  

“We recently had the opportunity to present our ideas to both the Competitions Working Group and those Premiership clubs not involved in the CWG, and we thank them for taking the time to listen to us.  

“We are, however, disappointed to learn that the Premiership clubs intend to proceed to a vote on a blanket ban of artificial surfaces from season 2026/27, and that none of the elements of our alternative proposal have been adopted or incorporated into their final proposal.  

“We are publishing our paper today to promote a public debate on the subject. Our view is that this decision is poorly thought through, and we do not believe it is acceptable for just twelve clubs to make this decision, which could have a long-lasting and negative impact on Scottish football, as serious as the ill-fated 10,000-seat stadium rule.  

“We believe that all clubs with the ability and ambition to reach the Premiership should be encouraged to do so, without having unnecessary barriers being created to demotivate and disincentivise them.” 

The clubs said that maintaining a suitable grass pitch can cost more than £750,000 a year, making it unaffordable for some clubs.

Instead they propose “strict criteria around the age and quality” of artificial pitches in the Premiership, and that UEFA-approved surfaces are “far superior” to sub-standard grass pitches, that the group say are seen “routinely” in the Scottish winter.

The clubs have urged fans to review a consultation paper that they have commissioned to put forward their argument.

They conclude that the current move is “grossly unfair and contrary to the solidarity promised in 2013, when the SPFL was formed” and have said that if the rule is passed then financial support for any clubs impacted will be essential to ensure sporting integrity. 

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