LONDON, May 17, 2012 - The European Synthetic Turf Organisation (ESTO) has pledged its
commitment to profiling the benefits of synthetic turf in sport, as it
champions a positive decision in advance of the Football League’s review into
the use of artificial surfaces next month.
The results of the consultation period, which closed on 30 April
2012, will be released as part of a report to all Member Clubs, when the issues
will be debated at Football League Board meetings and at the Chairmen’s
Conference on 31 May / 01 June 2012.
The use of synthetic turf in professional football is prevalent
throughout the top tiers of the sport in Italy, Holland and France, as well as
European competitions including the Europa League and Champions League; indicative
of the backing already in place from both UEFA and FIFA.
The option to switch to using synthetic turf does not only guarantee
a better playing surface in terms of its consistency and quality, but,
significantly, meets a requirement which underpins decisions made by the
majority of football clubs, that is, the assurance of financial sustainability.
A synthetic turf pitch provides clubs with a substantial additional
revenue stream, by enabling the use of the pitch and the ground’s facilities
for commercial use; consequently, it also facilitates wider engagement between
the club and its fans and the local community.
Commenting on the impending result from the Football League review,
Nigel Fletcher, executive chairman of ESTO, said: “The introduction of
synthetic turf within professional football is not only of positive
significance to the club itself, but also for a country’s football development
strategy; Holland and Italy are just two affirmative examples of this.
“As one of the world’s leading footballing nations, the next step is
to allow English clubs the option to experience the momentous benefits that can
be created by synthetic turf, for both the Football League clubs and the entire
The decision will follow the recent announcement from the Football
League that will see the implementation of its own Financial Fair Play
regulations across all three divisions, based on the similar rulings already in
place by UEFA for teams in the top divisions across Europe.
“In the last decade, 23 of the 92 professional clubs in England have
entered into some form of administration; eight of which have done so more than
once. The introduction of synthetic turf will provide a much-needed financial
boost for clubs and a recent report by KPMG, commissioned by ESTO, proves that
the business model works,” confirms Nigel Fletcher.
“During my time at FIFA and in my capacity as executive chairman of
ESTO, I saw many immediate and positive benefits for clubs who switched to
synthetic turf; club development enhanced, community initiatives were
established and youth development programmes were launched all because of the
durability and quality of the playing surface.
“No longer did you need a sign saying ‘keep off the pitch’. The new
pitch was the starting point for a club’s sustainable development, both on and
off the pitch, and one must not forget that for many smaller clubs, the pitch
can be their most important asset,” explains Nigel Fletcher.
Rob Heys, chief executive of Football League
Two side Accrington Stanley, is one of the long-term advocates of a return to
synthetic turf. Commenting on how clubs can benefit from synthetic turf, Rob
said: “The commercial benefits of installing a synthetic
turf pitch really do stack up as there is an income to be gained from hiring
the pitch out and money to be saved in maintenance costs.
“The fact we can use the pitch for training as
well as the benefit to the community, from getting people down to the ground
seven days a week rather than just 23 times a season for home fixtures, would
make a massive difference to a club of our size and, I believe, a number of
other Football League clubs, all of whom are constantly looking at new ways to
generate revenue to continue operating.”
ESTO will be holding a media briefing today (17/05/12) at the
Sofitel, St. James, London. The event will profile the benefits and successes
of synthetic turf within sport, in advance of the impending announcement from
the Football League next month.