With artificial 3G sports turf possibly set to return to the English Football League, a debate has been sparked over whether this synthetic sports surface type really is better than natural grass, and if it should be used more widely in sport. Many English Premiership Rugby Union teams currently use 3G synthetic sports pitches, so why is there hesitation from some football clubs when the benefits seem clear in other sports?
Synthetic Football Pitch Specification
The specification of a 3G sports turf surface is made up of a synthetic grass carpet which is installed onto an engineered macadam sub base. The pile height of the artificial turf fibres can vary depending on each project and whether the pitch surfacing is going to be used for other sports like rugby in addition to football. A shockpad will often be installed underneath the synthetic grass carpet to create impact absorption, the shockpad layer must always be included if the 3G sports turf is going to be used for rugby as this sport carries more risk of injury.
Once the foundations and the turf carpet itself have been installed, the sport surfacing is filled with a layer of sand and rubber infill which falls down into the fibres and enhances the performance of the 3G pitch. It’s important to create these natural playing qualities so that the facility is comfortable for players to use.
Benefits of 3G Sports Turf
There are a great deal of advantages for lower league clubs having a 3G artificial grass football pitch installed, some of these benefits are:
- 3G sports turf is a durable all weather surface with porous layers which let water drain through easily, meaning that training and matches can continue all year round even during wet weather.
- The installation of a synthetic turf football pitch can include a specialised shockpad layer which cushions players’ joints and absorbs impact to reduce the risk of injury.
- The cleaning and maintenance requirements of artificial turf are much simpler than those of a natural grass pitch. Regular drag brushing to redistribute the infill is needed to maintain the permeability of the surface, and it’s also important to remove any dirt or litter to prevent contamination from moss and algae.
- Artificial grass sports turf provides excellent playing characteristics in terms of ball bounce and ball roll, meaning that players have a high quality experience when playing on these surfaces for both matches and training.
- Extra revenue can be generated through renting 3G sports turf surfaces out for use by other teams and clubs, the durability of this synthetic surface type means it will not get worn out by this kind of heavy use like a natural grass pitch would.
- This additional income from a 3G pitch is often vital to help struggling clubs who would not be able to continue without the added financial benefits. For example Maidstone United FC recently upgraded to a 3G sports pitch to save them from having to close down as the club couldn’t keep up with the demands of the existing natural grass.
Problems with Synthetic Grass Pitches
Of course there are also disadvantages that go along with installing 3G sports turf, and this is why some would say that a natural grass surface is better for football. For example the costs of initial installation for a 3G synthetic pitch are far greater than for a natural grass surface, there are chemicals within the artificial turf fibres which could potentially lead to health risks, and bacteria can also survive within the pile which might increase the spread of some diseases. However the risks involved with these disadvantages are far outweighed by the benefits that 3G synthetic pitches have for lower league clubs in boosting revenue and improving the performance and safety qualities of an existing pitch.
To find out more about the 3G sports turf specification and the benefits it could have for your sports club or school, take a look at our website at http://sportsandsafetysurfaces.co.uk/ where you can see details of our previous installations and the maintenance services we also offer.
What are your thoughts on 3G grass being allowed in the English Football League? Do you agree with it? Tell us what you think about this topic in the comments below and please share this post with your friends if you thought it was interesting!