The upcoming close season is probably the most important timeframe for the UK’s artificial turf industry since FieldTurf first invented 3G Football Turf back in 1994. With the recent change in regulations, Sutton Utd FC are one of a number of clubs who are looking at installing 3G Football Turf in their stadium at the end of the season.
The financial and community benefits of installing ‘3G’ are well known, with examples such as Maidstone Utd proving that changing from natural to artificial turf can revolutionise a club. Unfortunately though there is still a negative view from certain people towards “plastic” pitches and this is where the artificial turf industry and the likes of Sutton Utd have an important responsibility.
To change the perceptions surrounding 3G pitches, it is critical that the decisions made now are done so to achieve the best possible surfaces for the players to perform. The investments now will be significant, and the pitches must perform to the FIFA 2-star performance standards consistently for years to come. There is a massive difference between community use 3G facilities and top end stadium systems, and understanding this must shape the clubs thinking when considering the standard of facility they will invest in. All areas of a 3G pitch construction, from the type of yarn in the 3G turf to the sub-base underneath, needs to be analysed and selected carefully on the basis of long term performance and player comfort.
Paul Doswell, Manager of Sutton Utd says:
When Bruce Elliott [Sutton Utd Chairman] and I were looking into this, we researched all angles to guarantee that we are getting the very best system for our players and fans. We looked into the injury risk to the players and all the research from FIFA and other consultants categorically states there is no increased risk of injury to our players.
We also looked at existing 3G facilities and learnt what has worked and what hasn’t worked so well. The stadium pitches at Kilmarnock FC, Cardiff Blues, Stenhousemuir and Newtown FC have all received rave reviews from players and managers so it was a natural choice to select the same surface. We also took advice from the contractor and have selected a shockpad system to help with player safety, improve playing characteristics and increase the longevity of the pitch. It was the more expensive option but our players deserve the best and we need to be sure the pitch achieves FIFA 2-star for years to come.
This is our one chance to show how far technology has changed from the days of the original plastic pitches at the likes of Luton and QPR. Sutton Utd are determined to be leaders both on and off the pitch.
Hopefully everyone else will follow Sutton Utd’s lead and create facilities to be proud of. It is only then that the myth of modern 3G pitches being dangerous can finally be dispelled and England can join the rest of the world in accepting 3G Football Turf.
Image: Sutton Utd’s home stadium, The Borough Sports Ground (pictured), will undergo a major development during the upcoming close season, with the installation of a 3G pitch and shockpad system.