It’s time for plastic pitches to go – Celtic defender Simunovic

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic believes it is only a matter of time before plastic pitches are booted out of Scottish football for good.

The Hoops centre-back joined his Parkhead team-mates and players from the eight other Ladbrokes Premiership clubs who play their home games on grass to sign a PFA Scotland petition demanding artificial turf is outlawed in the top flight.

Hamilton, Kilmarnock and Livingston all boast synthetic surfaces, with Accies vice-chairman Les Gray hitting back at union bosses yesterday as he branded them “dinosaurs” for their objections to plastic.

But Simunovic insists the players’ concerns are real and believes it will not be long before the powers that be running Scottish football take action.

The former Dinamo Zagreb stopper is set to start for Brendan Rodgers at Killie’s Rugby Park for the first time on Sunday after previously choosing not to risk a long-standing ankle complaint on the Ayrshire Astroturf.

He said: “I can play and I’m looking forward to the game as we want to take all three points and continue our run.

“But I don’t enjoy playing on these pitches, and it is not only me who feels this way. I think all players feel the same, and for me in professional football, they need to take them out. It’s very simple.

“It is not natural grass, and we are professional footballers. We should play on natural grass.

“For me, I feel OK afterwards but some other guys feel it more after a game on Astro.

“There are many players who have been hurt on this kind of pitch. When you are playing every week on normal grass then after five or six weeks you move to Astroturf, it’s a big difference.

“The people in charge of the game here care about it for sure. They are going to take their time because it’s not just one team in the league who has an Astro pitch.

“But we believe that they want to fix it and will take care of that in the future.”

Simunovic’s Parkhead colleague Callum McGregor also signed the PFA’s petition and hopes the message will sink in that plastic should be scrapped.

He said: “This discussion is always a big talking point in Scottish football. The players were asked about it and we want to be playing on the best surfaces.

“I think for the players’ sake, we want to see a day when it’s only grass we play on. Hopefully, we can get to that stage.

“I understand the financial restrictions some clubs have but hopefully we can get to a point when the boys are playing on the best surfaces.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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