April 24, 2024

The FSS Committee has become increasingly aware of a supposedly imminent vote, exclusive to clubs in the SPFL Premiership, which could ban or phase out artificial pitches from the top league. While it is common for those in Scotland to state that the best football will always be played on a grass pitch (and there can be some sympathy with that view), the quality of artificial pitches is ever improving and provides a vital, cost-efficient hub for clubs at the heart of their communities. We believe that an SPFL Premiership exclusive vote on banning or phasing out artificial surfaces in the top-flight dismisses the importance of community football, the cost to clubs in a period of financial constraint, and creates an unnecessary barrier for lower league teams in reaching the top league on sporting merit.

Falkirk Football Club has for over the past 10 years, after struggling with the costs of maintaining a grass pitch to a high quality, played on an artificial surface. Last summer, after the pitch had reached its ‘end of life period’, a new surface was laid using grant funding from the SFA, with a contribution from the FSS helping to make up the difference in the total cost. As part of the procurement process for the new artificial surface, all manufactures were required to meet FIFA Quality Pro certification. These pitches, if installed and maintained appropriately, provide a high-quality playing standard in Scotland.

Since the initial installation, The Falkirk Stadium, like many stadiums across Scottish football with an artificial surface, has become the hub for football in the community. This has enabled the Club, in conjunction with Falkirk Foundation, to provide facilities to the community and become a place which promotes both the physical and mental wellbeing of local people. The Club has stated its ambition to achieve promotion to the Premiership, however the removal of our artificial surface to accommodate a grass pitch, would come at a significant cost and be an equally significant loss to many people in the Falkirk area.

Ultimately, the FSS Committee believe that this vote would not simply involve banning ‘plastic pitches’, but would signal a move by SPFL Premiership clubs to protect their own interests, put a barrier between lower league clubs and the topflight, and see Scottish football take as harmful and as backwards a step as the 10,000-seater stadium rule 25 years ago (something which Bairns especially will be all too familiar with). An issue as important as this, which has the potential to impact on all in the lower leagues, should not be dictated by the 12 Premiership clubs. It is vital that any decision on this matter takes in the voice of all.

We need more information to be made available by the SPFL on what these proposals will involve, but please in the meantime get in touch with your own thoughts, and advise on any further action you think the Falkirk Supporters Society should be taking on this matter.

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