Plastic pitches could return to Football League
Published 16:29 16/02/12 By MirrorFootball
Artificial pitches could make a return to English football after club chairmen voted to hold a formal consultation on the controversial surfaces.
The so-called 'plastic pitches' were banned in all four divisions in 1995 when the likes of Luton and QPR were deemed to gain too great a home advantage from having an artificial surface.
Now the Football League say there is a "clear appetite" among some members to take advantage of the improvement in artificial pitches - they have now been sanctioned by FIFA and UEFA and are used in many countries.
Football League chief operating officer Andy Williamson said: "For the first time in 20 years there is a clear appetite amongst a number of Football League clubs to reconsider the use of artificial surfaces for first-team matches.
"It is fair to say that the Football League currently has an open mind on the issue, however it is a decision that will clearly have implications for all those with an interest in professional football.
"It is important therefore that everybody gets the opportunity to have their say."
It is thought that Accrington Stanley and Wycombe are among those keen to have artificial pitches.
The consultation will be open to all clubs, governing bodies and leagues, as well as other football groups such as the Professional Footballers' Association, the League Managers' Association, referees' groups, groundstaff and fans.
The issue will be discussed at the Football League's summer conference being held on May 31 and June 1.
KEY FACTS ON ARTIFICIAL PITCHES
* Four English clubs had artificial pitches in the 1980s: QPR, Luton, Oldham and Preston.
* In 1989 a commission of inquiry into playing surfaces prohibited their use in the top flight from 1990 onwards and by 1995 from all four divisions.
* In 2004, FIFA and UEFA sanctioned the use of artificial surfaces in their competitions following significant advances in pitch technology.
* There are currently two artificial pitches in use in Italy's Serie A (Cesena and Novara), two in France's Ligue 1 (Lorient and Nancy) and two in the Dutch Eredivisie (Heracles Almelo & Excelsior Rotterdam).
* Other countries using artificial pitches include: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Russia, Switzerland and Belgium.