Sunday, 19 August 2018

POLL: is it time to ban artificial surfaces in Scottish football?

It’s not the first time a Rangers player has fallen foul on Rugby Park’s dire surface. Fans will remember Martin Waghorn’s season was badly curtailed in 2016 after a foul for a penalty led to his early exit oddly enough in a cup match.

And now today Jamie Murphy fears the worst after reported ligament damage following a fall innocuously during a challenge with Killie’s egg-exploding Kirk Broadfoot. There is zero doubt, despite Stephen Craigan’s protestations otherwise, that Murphy’s injury wouldn’t have happened on an organic surface. Grass and soil are softer, have more give, and crucially, break up on heavy impact.

3G pitches are barely any better than soft (ish) concrete – anyone who has ever played on these surfaces knows how non-organic they feel, how badly natural balance is impaired and how auto-kinesthesis is borderline AWOL.

And now we see a very serious chance these attributes have ended Jamie Murphy’s season or even worse. Ligament damage is a deeply worrying injury, and can see a player out for an extended period, plus the worst-case scenario of the rest of their career being badly blighted by related injury problems.

Murphy had literally just got back onto a game in Maribor following some flat form, and was ready to go – now his season is at serious risk.

Why do Killie use these disgraceful surfaces? Presumably price – we get that Kilmarnock aren’t rich, but there is no price on someone’s safety and health and the SPFL have made a huge error allowing this and New Douglas Park to carry on their plastic pitch nonsense.

When Rangers and Celtic agree on something, you know there’s something in it. Scott Brown wants the pitches banned, Gerrard is now exactly the same.

As Gerrard said pre-match – we prefer grass, and as he equally said, no excuses, but there’s a difference between blaming a pitch for bad play, and blaming it for a clear and obvious failing leading to a bad injury.

It’s now unacceptable, and we wonder how many more professionals must be maimed for the powers-that-be to finally ban this ridiculous, dangerous and intolerable surface.

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