As the Scottish FA and the PFA launch their “biggest-ever” survey of professional footballers into the use of artificial surfaces, is it time more clubs opted to have a 3G pitch rather than a grass pitch?
Ayr United have mulled over the possibility of changing the surface of Somerset Park from grass to 3G and although there are many people who have reservations of 3G it’s becoming a very logical solution to many problems that SFL clubs face. Firstly, it would restrict fixture backlog. Ayr’s last home game was back in January 2 and have played four away matches in a row. No gate money has been generated for 6 weeks and match-days create the vast majority of money for part-time teams. 3G surfaces would reduce the number of call-offs in the winter and allow the club to operate more comfortably in the winter months.
Secondly, it will help the local community. Turning Somerset into a 3G surface would enable the first-team and youth sides to train there without additional costs. Hiring out local school artificial pitches would not be necessary and it would be much cheaper too. This would free up facilities for youth clubs as many have been frozen out of training as bookings have been taken up by Ayr United and their football academy. Currently, playing on grass is a lose-lose situation for Ayr and youth teams.
Finally, perceptions of 3G are beginning to change. 8 SFL clubs currently use 3G in their grounds (Stenhousemuir and East Stirling are groundsharing) which makes up over 25% of SFL clubs using 3G. 3G is also used in the Champions League and has evolved to offer better playing conditions. Many players have criticised surfaces like this as the ball bounces differently, it isn’t natural to play on and nothing beats playing on the old traditional grass but the harsh reality is when many clubs need to cut back on costs then this seems a no-brainer.
Hopefully, this survey will begin to show a different perception of 3G from players. With rumours of Ayr United looking into redeveloping the area it seems that a 3G surface will be at the heart of those long-term plans. Sacrificing tradition to save money and free up resources for others and fixture congestion is sensible in this case. Obviously turning a surface artificial can not be done overnight as fans need to be won over and it takes time to replace a grass pitch with a 3G one.
However surveys and facts and figures from the SFA should make football fans come round to the idea that artificial pitches have developed, won’t change the quality of the product on the field and vitally prove that the club they love will save money.