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A-League Pitches Cause Concern

A-League Pitches Cause Concern
December 23, 2009

Some A-League playing surfaces continue to compromise the quality of the game and potentially undermine player health and safety, according to the latest results of the A-League Pitch Rating System announced by Professional Footballers Australia (PFA).

The PFA A-League Pitch Rating System rates the playing surfaces of A-League venues based on four criteria: overall; hardness; pace; and smoothness. The PFA introduced the rating system at the start of the 2009/2010 A-League season. At the conclusion of each match, the visiting captain rates the field based on each criterion by giving a mark out of five, with five being the highest possible score.

PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab explained "according to the players, Brisbane Roar's Suncorp Stadium continues to set the standard for A-League playing surfaces, with an almost perfect overall rating of 4.7.

"As the field was also voted as the playersâ best at Round 10, this demonstrates that multi-use venues can provide a playing surface that meets the exacting requirements of top tier professional football."

The PFA remains concerned by the failure of some venues to provide top class surfaces even after the end of the AFL, NRL and rugby playing seasons.

Schwab added "clearly, the players would prefer to see better surfaces at some venues, most notably Newcastle Jetâs Energy Australia Stadium, Melbourne Victory's Etihad Stadium and Gold Coast United's Skilled Park.

"Of all the football codes, soccer clearly demands the best playing surface and this has yet to become part of Australiaâs sporting culture.

"Perhaps, we can call upon our stadium operators to approach the preparation of an A-League field with the same care and attention that presently surrounds the preparation of the wicket for a cricket test match in Australia."

The results to the end of Round 18 are, in summary:

1.Overall Rating (the pitch was of an excellent quality for top tier professional football):
Best rating: Brisbane Roar
Worst rating: Newcastle Jets

2. Hardness (the pitch was not too hard for top-tier professional football):
Best rating: Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix 
Worst rating: North Queensland Fury

3. Pace (the pitch played at perfect place for top-tier professional football):
Best rating: North Queensland Fury and Sydney FC
Worst rating: Newcastle Jets

4. Smoothness (the pitch was perfectly level/even for top-tier professional football):
Best rating: North Queensland Fury
Worst rating: Newcastle Jets

The November/December 2009 issue of Australasian Leisure Management explored whether artificial turf can improve safety, game play and drought-proof sports grounds.

The detailed ratings for each criterion can be viewed at www.pfa.net.au/index.php?id=86


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