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Forget Plastic Pitches! We Need To Fix Disciplinary System

Date: 15th February 2019

PFA Scotland came out yesterday to state that a large number of Scottish Premiership footballers want plastic pitches to be banned. 

The Player’s Union chairman and current St Johnstone Liam Craig midfielder said:

“inconsistency of artificial surfaces at the top level”.

“The ball rolls and bounces differently, which affects a player’s decision making,” 

“Movements such as running, turning and tackling on the pitch also have a negative impact on the body, which inevitably affects a player’s performance.”

While I respect that the players can have a say on the surfaces that they play on, I also believe that the Scottish PFA have kind of jumped in too quickly. 

First off there’s not a lot of research that backs up the amount of injuries and needing extra time to recover. I’d like to see facts and figures on that, to make a balanced opinion. 

The rolls and the bounces of the ball? Well that also happens on various turf pitches. Not every pitch is the same. How many times have we seen a bobble impact on a game played on the grass? 

Then we’ve got the fact that three out of twelve clubs’ players weren’t asked about the petition. I always thought a union had a duty to ballot all members?

Plus say Kilmarnock, Hamilton Accies and Livingston decide to rip up the plastic pitch at their own cost and then lay turf and pay for it’s up keep. They will no longer get more income from the local community for their use of the field and they might see more match postponements. That could significantly impact on their finances. Which in turn could see more players becoming unemployed, will the Scottish PFA accept their fault in that scenario? 

I also think by pushing this agenda, the players are taking focus away from the problems we have with officiating and with the disciplinary process in our game. 

That, for me, is a much bigger issue amongst our team’s supporters. We can’t forget that our fans are the people that keep our game alive, without them there simply isn’t any football! 

I far as I can see we’ve got two options to improve our game, in terms of refereeing and the compliance officer. 

We could go down the road of giving the referees and their teams as much help as possible. 

They become professional, get full-on training at various points of the season and have the facilities needed to keep sharp both mentally and physically. 

The SFA don’t hide from issues and let the refs speak to the press to explain certain decisions, which doesn’t have to be right after the game, it can be done on a Monday. If the officials make three high profile mistakes in a season then they should get demoted. 

Our clubs and associations should collectively fork out for VAR (Video Assistant Referee) and have that system implemented meaning glaring errors can be reviewed almost instantly and the correct decisions can be made sooner. 

My grandfather always told me that ‘free ends up being expensive’. If we don’t invest in our officiating then why should we expect the best? 

If we don’t go down the professional approach, then dare I say it less is more.

The compliance officer system isn’t working. There doesn’t seem to be any reasoning behind the decisions. It’s almost as if the compliance officer is just throwing darts at pictures and if your face is hit then you’re getting a ban that week. 

We could go back to the days that we only used retrospective action if clear physical altercations happened without the ref noticing, clear dives to win a distinct advantage or help in cases of mistaken identity. 

At the moment every decision seems to getting looked at and that’s not great for anyone, especially if the process isn’t black and white. Going on that The SFA need to do a better job when explaining how the compliance officer goes about reaching their decision. 

Personally I’d go for the professional option as it’ll give the referees the best chance possible to become better officials and improving our game

Let’s sort out the problem that’s quickly turning Scottish football into a laughing stock and the one that’s annoying the supporters the most! 

By Scott Johnston (

Posted in: Latest News