The debate over the use of 3G synthetic pitches in professional football has been ongoing for a few years now as many organisations like schools and sports clubs are having them installed to save money on maintenance and to generate extra revenue. 3G pitches are often used in international football and there was also a recent decision to allow the artificial surfacing to be used in FA cup matches. However there are still doubts from many over the performance qualities of 3G surfacing and whether the artificial grass is suitable for the English Football League.
The 3G synthetic pitch used in Wales’s Euro 2016 qualifier match with Andorra raised concerns over the playability of these artificial surfaces for professional football as the surface was described by players as ‘the worst pitch ever’. But it’s likely that these issues are just representative of that particular synthetic grass surface in Andorra, and not 3G football pitches as a whole. Despite these problems there are a number of advantages which come with synthetic grass pitches in terms of playing qualities and financial benefits for clubs and organisations who choose to have them installed. 3G sports surfacing is made using the most advanced artificial grass technology which is specially designed for use with football and rugby. An impact absorbing shockpad is installed beneath the turf carpet and rubber crumb infill is put within the grass fibres, both of these features enhance the safety of the surfacing as well as replicating the performance qualities of natural grass. The whole 3G pitch system is completely porous so water drains away easily to prevent flooding on the surface, this coupled with the absence of mud within the turf means that artificial pitches are more durable and require much less maintenance than natural grass.
The financial benefit of 3G synthetic pitches is one of the main factors which contribute to a club’s decision to install an artificial surface in place of natural grass. The heavy maintenance costs of a natural pitch can often put a strain on lower league football clubs and sometimes the only option is to replace the existing surface with a synthetic one to avoid bankruptcy. High quality 3G surfacing is extremely durable and long lasting, this gives clubs the freedom to rent the pitches out to other organisations for training to create extra income and contribute towards looking after the surface.
This infographic describes the advantages of having a 3G pitch installed:
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Although there are significant benefits of using 3G pitches for football, there are still concerns over whether the synthetic grass specification is suitable for the Football League and if it should be used more widely in sport. Chairmen from Leagues One and Two are set to take a formal vote next month to decide, so we could soon be seeing a lot more 3G pitches in professional football.