Motherwell midfielder Carl McHugh believes an artificial pitch caused him injury problems in his teenage years as he backed calls for their use to be banned in Scotland’s top flight.
PFA Scotland claims every player from nine Ladbrokes Premiership clubs has signed a petition calling for the top flight to be grass only – squads at Hamilton, Kilmarnock and Livingston were not asked to sign as their clubs play on the surfaces.
McHugh told Football Paradise: “For the good of the game, it would definitely help if all the pitches were grass.
“I have been up here three years now so you just get on with it but it isn’t ideal and I know some players miss games on the surface through injuries.
“Even when you watch games on TV on the artificial pitches, you rarely see a good game in my opinion. The games are always scrappier and it is different.
“Even probably the players at the three clubs would rather play on grass, it’s less taxing on your body and your joints. It can be sore.
“I went on loan to Dundalk when I was 19 for six months and I played on an artificial pitch and I had an injury afterwards, probably from the surface, from playing and training on it.
“That can probably be a bigger thing if you are training on it every day, it can take its toll.”
Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson believes the artificial pitches put the Scottish game in a bad light.
“In a top league in the country, it’s much better if it’s all grass,” the former Oldham boss said. “It goes without saying, if we’re trying to sell the game.
“People see the game down in England and it’s a big talking point. They find it strange because it doesn’t exist down there in any of the top leagues.
“In terms of the players, they don’t like playing on it. Simply, every player I speak to hates playing on the astro.
“I understand the financial reasons why certain clubs have got it but in general I feel the country would be much better off with grass pitches.
“But players are the most important people in football and they are really uncomfortable playing on it. If they want change, people have to listen.”
Robinson admits the surfaces influence his team selections.
“We’ve got certain players who really struggle on the astro for three or four days afterwards so you have to make a conscious decision to take that chance to play them and maybe lose them for two weeks after,” he said.
“We have boys who really struggle with their joints if we train on it when the weather’s poor.”
Motherwell’s pitch has been rated by players as the best in the Premiership – vindication of serious investment in the surface in recent years. And Robinson believes a general rule for grass pitches would be fair.
“We believe having a good playing surface encourages a better standard of football, is better for fans,” he said. “Fans pay a lot of money to watch football and we believe that’s the way to go.”
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