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Talks between Scottish clubs about potential plastic pitch ban to take place in May

Talks between the 12 Scottish Premiership clubs and lower league clubs will take place later in May concerning a potential plastic pitch ban. Following Livingston’s relegation from the top flight, Kilmarnock are the only team left to have an astroturf surface at their home ground. However, their artificial pitch at Rugby Park will return to a grass pitch in time for the 2025/26 season.

Scottish Premiership clubs look to push through plastic pitch ban

The clubs in the top division are hopeful of pushing through a vote in the summer that would ban artificial pitches across the country in time for the start of next season. As already mentioned, Kilmarnock are planning to bring back a grass pitch at Rugby Park next year, along with their plans for a new training facility. However, for clubs like Livingston, the cost and time of any potential renovation work required to get rid of an artificial surface would not be as seamless.

plastic pitch ban
Rugby Park has an artificial turf pitch rather than grass – Photo by Icon Sport

In December 2023, Livi boss David Martindale said: “I'd rather have a grass park and if the authorities want to give us a couple of million then we'll have one with undersoil heating and a separate training ground,” he said.

“Realistically, it'd cost us between £2-3 million. We're paying for VAR and energy costs have increased. Overall, we're handing out £300,000-400,000 extra and our incoming revenue doesn't match that. It'll be five or 10 years before we can be where Kilmarnock are now.”

“We're the only team in the Premiership that doesn't own their stadium – the only licence we own is the one from the SFA – and since returning to the Premiership in 2018 we've spent £600,000 upgrading the ground.”

‘It’s probably impossible’ – Falkirk manager concerned about potential impact of plastic pitch ban

Managers of clubs below the Scottish Premiership have also expressed their concerns about any vote that would bring an end to artificial surfaces. On May 8, 2024, Falkirk manager John McGlynn said: “When we came in the pitch was rock solid, but we laid a new surface.”

“We have also replaced floodlights, with more work to come.

“It’s a brand-new pitch so for Falkirk to go forward with a grass pitch it would cost the club in excess of £1m.

“It’s probably impossible. You look at teams like Raith Rovers or Hamilton, they might not get up if they don’t put a grass pitch down. Or what happens if they go up this season and they change the rule once they are in the Premiership. Do they get expelled? I don’t know.

“I’m not going to look too far ahead. I’m just looking to the first match in August. But we are fortunate we have a good one, especially when you consider some of the grass surfaces this season.

“We are trying to put the case forward. I understand the likes of Celtic and Rangers are going to push for these things, and fair play to Killie for going back to grass. But they have a very wealthy financial backer.

“You can go all over Europe and play on these astro turf pitches, you look at the amount of them in the likes of the Scandinavian countries.”

Falkirk were promoted from the Scottish League One this season, meaning they are now only one promotion away from the Scottish Premiership. A ban on artificial pitches would force them to change their playing surface if they gained another promotion. If the ban is successfully voted through this summer, it will divide opinion across Scotland.


Will Murray

Freelance football journalist. Experience writing for When Saturday, Comes, Goalkeeper.com, Elite Scholars and Total Football Analysis. Recently finished an MA in Sport Journalism at the University of Brighton. Long-time season ticket holder at the two-time European Champions Nottingham Forest.

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