Doubts over artificial turf

Artificial grass ‘no challenge’ say turf conference speakers

Artificial sports turf should not be seen as a direct challenge to conventional grass pitches, concluded speakers at a London conference last week. Spalding, Lincolnshire and Holland-based sports surface company Support in Sport’s chief executive, George Mullan, told delegates at the SIS/Greenfields Sports Turf conference: “We’re not so sure it is the ultimate solution that everybody thinks it is.” He said his firm could not cope with demand and he expected 50 per cent of councils and schools to move to artificial turf in the next five years because it is easier to maintain and usable 24 hours a day. “We’re seeing a boom in councils, schools and professional football training centres. You will see stadiums in Europe with artificial turf, but I don’t include the UK as it’s more conservative and has a history of quality groundsmen.” He said people’s expectations of third-generation artificial turf, despite improved playability, were too high. With proper maintenance, grass pitches were adequate for many uses, he added. Ipswich Town FC head groundsman Alan Ferguson told delegates that artificial practice pitches at his club had boosted income and helped provide for a boom in youth football. However, he added that the development of uniformity between pitches could mean that football became stereotyped and could therefore lose its appeal to potential sponsors. L European football governing body UEFA has certified two surfaces — the United system from Greenfields, of Kampen in Holland, and XL Turf, developed by Canadian firm Symbior Technologies.

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