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SPFL clubs condemn ‘fundamentally flawed’ plastic pitch ban proposals

Four SPFL clubs have condemned the plans to ban plastic pitches from the Scottish Premiership. The SPFL announced on May 20 that the 12 current top flight clubs will vote on whether to ban artificial pitches. Nine out of 12 votes are needed for the proposals to be pushed through.

SPFL statement announces vote to take place on plastic pitch ban

The SPFL released a statement on May 20, which read: “Clubs in the cinch Premiership have today brought forward a resolution seeking to phase out the use of artificial pitches in the SPFL top flight.

“The SPFL will now issue the resolution to all cinch Premiership clubs, and the outcome of that vote will be announced in due course. The resolution requires nine votes in favour to be passed.

“The SPFL Board has confirmed at a meeting today that if the resolution is approved, it will grant a two-year period to allow clubs with an artificial pitch to plan accordingly, with artificial pitches not permitted in the top division from season 2026/27.

“This period of grace is in line with recommendations of the SPFL Competitions Working Group, which represents member clubs across the SPFL.

“Separately, the SPFL Board has approved plans for a Premiership-wide project to work with a leading pitch consultancy firm, which is regularly used by UEFA, to improve the standards of grass pitches in the cinch Premiership.”

In the 2023/24 Scottish Premiership season, Livingston and Kilmarnock were the only two top flight clubs with a plastic pitch. However, Livingston were relegated, meaning Kilmarnock’s home ground, Rugby Park, is the only artificial surface left. There are plans to revert the pitch at Rugby Park back to grass at the end of next season, though.

plastic pitch ban
Kilmarnock's Rugby Park is now the only artificial surface in the Scottish Premiership – Photo by Icon sport

Four SPFL clubs condemn proposals

Raith Rovers, Hamilton Accies, Falkirk, and Queen of the South all play in the lower divisions of the SPFL, and they have condemned the proposals to ban plastic pitches in 2026. A strongly worded joint statement by the four clubs said: “In response to the proposal to ban artificial playing surfaces in the Scottish Premiership, over the past few months we have sought constructive dialogue with both the SPFL Competitions Working Group (CWG) and directly with Scottish Premiership clubs.

“We have done so because we believe the proposal to be fundamentally flawed on a number of levels and, if approved, will cause significant long-term damage to Scottish football by undermining sporting integrity, impacting the wider game and creating huge financial entry barriers to the top league.

“We unreservedly support the Premiership clubs desire to ensure that playing surfaces are always of a high quality, so worked together to create what we believe to be a constructive and well-considered alternative proposal, which we are publishing today.

“We recently had the opportunity to present our ideas to both the Competitions Working Group and those Premiership clubs not involved in the CWG, and we thank them for taking the time to listen to us.

“We are, however, disappointed to learn that the Premiership clubs intend to proceed to a vote on a blanket ban of artificial surfaces from season 2026/27, and that none of the elements of our alternative proposal have been adopted or incorporated into their final proposal.

“We are publishing our paper today to promote a public debate on the subject. Our view is that this decision is poorly thought through, and we do not believe it is acceptable for just twelve clubs to make this decision, which could have a long-lasting and negative impact on Scottish football, as serious as the ill-fated 10,000-seat stadium rule.

“We believe that all clubs with the ability and ambition to reach the Premiership should be encouraged to do so, without having unnecessary barriers being created to demotivate and disincentivise them.”

‘Grossly unfair’ plans a threat to the Scottish football pyramid

Raith Rovers are on the verge of promotion to the top division, as they have a two-legged Premiership play-off final against Ross County in the next few days. The first leg will take place at Raith’s home, Stark’s Park, on Thursday evening, before they travel to Ross County’s home stadium for the deciding leg on Sunday.

The statement also said: “The costs associated with achieving the highest possible standard of grass pitches, year-round, could be more than £750k per annum, with a large percentage of this attributed to the electricity required to fuel grass growth lamps. It is therefore very difficult for the majority of Scottish clubs to achieve the highest possible standard of playing surface, as it is cost prohibitive. There’s no question that a top-quality, UEFA-approved artificial surface is far superior, in every respect, than a sub-standard grass pitch, which we routinely see in the winter months of Scottish football.

“Clubs with artificial surfaces have invested huge sums of money into the installation of pitches and infrastructure, at a time when the artificial pitches were fully compliant with the criteria in place. The goal posts are now being moved, with no consideration given to the consequences of such a decision on many clubs who will not get a vote on the matter.

“We believe this to be grossly unfair and contrary to the solidarity promised in 2013, when the SPFL was formed by merging the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League. Indeed, these unilateral actions are strongly reminiscent of the old SPL.

“Should this vote pass, we are concerned that there have been no lessons learned from past mistakes, particularly in relation to the 10,000-seat stadium rule. If this is to be the case, financial support for those clubs impacted is essential, if there is to be any semblance of sporting integrity and justice in this decision.”


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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