Could the Plastic Pitch be making an unwelcome return?

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Artificial pitches could be on their way back, more than 20 years since they were banned. Wycombe Wanderers and Accrington Stanley have raised the idea in an attempt to reduce costs and it seems that many others would be happy to follow suit.

They were a major feature of football in the 80’s with QPRand Luton using them as well as Oldham and Preston, but they were banned in 1988 after complaints that they were causing injuries because they were solid and it was affecting the quality of football on show.

Pitches were set on top of concrete which made it very difficult to move about in comparison to traditional grass but thanks to the advancements in technology the current plastic pitches have padding underneath which makes the experience similar to grass, offering a softer experience under foot and in the tackle as well as a smooth surface that is not guaranteed outside of the country’s top grounds. Rubber pellets are also on the pitch to act like mud and increase movement.

Accrington owner John Heys said that it will cost about £500,000 to install but the savings on maintenance will make it worthwhile. He added: “There is an income to be gained from hiring the pitch out and money to be saved in maintenance costs and the fact that you can train on it.

“The community benefit is that you can get people down to the ground seven days a week rather than just 23 times a season for home fixtures.”

Opinion is divided on the issue, with people saying that it is unnatural and will cause injuries and others favouring the idea of having smooth, all-weather pitches and there is no reason why the game should not bring them back.

Admittedly it would take a while to get used to. Players might not be too keen to make the sliding tackle because of the surface but that is part of the settling in process. It would not cut the skin like they did before and after training on the pitch players would become more comfortable with it and be able to play their natural game. The fear that they may get injured turning or by getting their foot stuck in the ground is still the same as it is on grass and is an unfortunate part of football whatever surface is used.

Mick Rathborne, who played on the plastic pitch at Preston and worked as Everton physio after retiring said: “The new third generation pitches are light years away from the old plastic pitches.

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