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Football League to consult over artificial pitches

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A formal consultation process is to be launched by the Football League (FL) into the use of artificial playing surfaces for professional first team matches.

The consultation will be open to governing bodies such as the Premier League and Football Association, as well as wide range of football stakeholder groups and football clubs.

Artificial surfaces were used at four Football League clubs during the 1980s, before a 1989 inquiry banned their use in top flight matches - extended to the top four divisions in 1995.

However, FIFA and UEFA have now sanctioned the use of artificial surfaces for more than seven years as a result of "significant advances" in pitch technology.

FL chief operating offcer Andy Williamson said: "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."

The move has been welcomed by the Sports and Play Construction Association (SAPCA), which said it will take part in the consultation and has encouraged its members to do so too.

SAPCA chief executive Chris Trickey said: "The choice of surface shouldn't be presented as a battle for supremacy between natural and synthetic turf.

"Each has its place and a decision about what is most suitable should be made for each individual facility, whether at a professional football club, the local park, or a school.

"It is important to remember that synthetic surfaces for football have come a very long way since the 1980s; hopefully the Football League's consultation will produce a timely and healthy discussion within the game, but based on sound knowledge and informed opinion."

To read more on SAPCA's reaction to the Football League's planned consultation, see the Leisure Media Blog

Details: www.football-league.co.uk

Image: Preston North End was one of four clubs to experiment with artificial surfaces in the 1980s, Steve Daniels

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A formal consultation process is to be launched by the Football League (FL) into the use of artificial playing surfaces for professional first team matches.
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