Steven Gerrard calls for ban on ‘dangerous’ artificial pitches
The move is set to be fiercely resisted by the three top-flight SPL clubs who play on plastic
Steven Gerrard: “The people who don’t agree with taking them out of the game need to think about the players, their health and safety.” Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says it is time the Scottish Professional Football League started listening to its players and outlawed “dangerous” plastic pitches.
Union chiefs from PFA Scotland have revealed a petition signed by every player from the nine top-flight clubs with grass surfaces demanding synthetic turf is banned in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
The move is set to be fiercely resisted by the three top-flight clubs who play on plastic — Kilmarnock, Hamilton and Livingston — but Gerrard’s views will not shift.
Jamie Murphy is only just returning to light training after the Ibrox winger suffered a serious knee injury on Killie’s Rugby Park pitch back in August and is only expected back in the final weeks of the season.
Now Gerrard claims that as well as putting players at risk, the artificial pitches are also a major turn-off to the new recruits he is trying to lure to Govan.
“I agree with the majority of the players in terms of trying to get them out of the game at the elite level,” said the former Liverpool skipper.
“I’ve given my opinion on this before. I don’t like plastic pitches, I didn’t like playing on them. I think they’re dangerous.
“I respect the teams that have put them in place for financial reasons — but for me having been a player and now being a coach, I believe the game would be in a better place if there was no plastic pitches.
“The people who don’t agree with taking them out of the game need to think about the players, their health and safety. My opinion is that players are a lot safer on grass.”
Gerrard knows the likes of Kilmarnock, Accies and Livi have financial imperatives driving their relationship with plastic.
But he is convinced even their own players would rather play on grass and believes others looking in from outside will be bemused by Scotland’s synthetic turf obsession.
“I respect financial reasons clubs have,” he said. “And I’m not saying those owners should dig deep and find the money to do without these pitches.
“But I believe the people who run this league should do more to make sure it’s played on grass.
“These games are going out worldwide. We’re trying to attract top players to the league and improve the standard.
“Every other elite league plays on grass, so why shouldn’t Scotland?
“I’m sure there are different ways, whether it be TV, the PFA, the SFA or bigger clubs trying to support other clubs. I’d be all for that because I think football at the top level should be played on grass.
“Even when it comes to your Hamiltons and your Kilmarnocks, I think if you ask their players away from their owners I believe they would rather play on grass than plastic.”