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Football’s complicated relationship with artificial turf

A slick playing surface is integral to a professional sports team’s success. Pep Guardiola’s arrival in the Premier League all but redefined the role of the Premier League groundskeeper. A playable surface was no longer the mark of a competent groundsman; nothing less than a pristine surface – watered and mowed to the manager’s precise requirements – became acceptable. The Manchester City manager imposed stringent demands on his grounds staff; the grass at the Etihad had to be shorn to catalyse the speed and precision of City’s new passing game.

But the quality of the playing surface isn’t the only consideration for sports teams. There are financial and environmental quandaries to mull over too. Renewed scrutiny of playing surfaces has led to more serious discussions of alternatives to natural grass and, in 2014, the Football League voted on whether to reintroduce artificial grass pitches.

Football’s complicated relationship with artificial grass began four decades ago. In the 1980s, several Football League teams installed astroturf. At first, it was praised as a forward-thinking move; later, it was derided by opposition players and fans – who lamented the advantage it supposedly gave the home team. By 1994, astroturf pitches had disappeared from the professional game in England; and a year later, they were banned indefinitely.

A wealth of time has passed since then though, and the artificial surfaces of today are a far cry from the primitive pitches of the 80s. The same criticisms that plagued the astroturf pitches of yesteryear cannot be levelled at the 3G pitches of today. Gone are the skyrocketing bounces, the persistent burns and scrapes, and the increased risk of injury.

There is a strong financial incentive to install artificial turf – especially for cash-strapped lower league teams. In the National League, artificial turf installers have revived the prospects of teams like Sutton United and Maidstone United. Both huge proponents of 3G pitches, the durability of their new playing surfaces have given them the financial security they haven’t had in years. In winters past, Sutton United were unable to play a home game for a staggering seven weeks. Secure in the unfailing durability of their pitches, they can hire out the pitch to the community, fostering a sense of togetherness while generating much-needed revenue.

Artificial pitches can be beneficial for the environment too. Natural lawns are resource-hungry: devouring fertiliser, slurping tens of thousands of litres of water, and bathing in underfloor heating – not to mention the near-constant mowing. Artificial grass maintenance, in comparison, is non-existent. By opting for artificial grass, football clubs can cut down on the amount of water and energy they use.

Financial, environmental (and even social) considerations all point towards artificial turf being a savvy choice for football clubs – all without jeopardising the quality of play. Artificial grass suppliers of real merit can be few and far between. But Lawrence Lawns break that mould. With years of experience and a durable, high quality product, they are artificial grass installers you can put your faith in. If you are looking for a company to handle your new artificial turf installation – whether it’s for a sports pitch or your garden – look no further than Lawrence Lawns: decades of experience and a passion for their craft guarantee unfailingly impeccable work.

By | 2019-02-06T11:26:12+00:00 January 30th, 2019|astroturf|Comments Off on Football’s complicated relationship with artificial turf

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