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Scottish Premiership clubs vote to phase out artificial pitches within two years

Artificial pitches are to be phased out in the Scottish Premiership (Lynne Cameron/PA)
Artificial pitches are to be phased out in the Scottish Premiership (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Scottish Premiership clubs have voted to “phase out” artificial pitches for the start of the 2026-27 season, the Scottish Professional Football League announced on Friday.

The resolution to ban plastic surfaces required at least nine votes from the 12 top-flight clubs to pass.

There will now be a two-year grace period to ensure every club with aspirations of playing in the Premiership is equipped with a grass pitch.

“The SPFL Board has granted a two-year period to allow clubs with an artificial pitch to plan for the phasing out of artificial pitches in the top tier of Scottish football,” read the SPFL’s statement confirming the outcome of the vote.

“This period of grace is in line with recommendations of the SPFL Competitions Working Group, which represents member clubs across the SPFL.

“The SPFL Board recently approved plans for a Premiership-wide project to work with a leading pitch consultancy firm, which is regularly used by UEFA, to improve the standards of grass pitches in the cinch Premiership. The SPFL will be engaging with Premiership clubs on this project ahead of the new season.”

With Livingston having been relegated in the season just finished, Kilmarnock are currently the only top-flight club with an artificial pitch although the Ayrshire club intend to revert to grass in 2025 and have plans for a new training ground in progress.

Rugby Park
Kilmarnock are the only top-flight club with an artificial pitch (Jane Barlow/PA)

Most of last season’s Championship teams had turf, but plastic pitches are more common in League One.

After the resolution was issued earlier this month, four lower-league clubs with artificial surfaces – Falkirk, Raith Rovers, Hamilton and Queen of the South – issued a joint statement rebuking the plan.

“We believe that all clubs with the ability and ambition to reach the Premiership should be encouraged to do so, without having unnecessary barriers being created to demotivate and disincentivise them,” it read.

“Scotland is the world’s most northerly non-Arctic nation, and our climate simply isn’t always conducive to having perfect grass pitches due to high levels of rainfall, minimal sunshine and high cloud coverage.

Stark's Park
Second-tier side Raith were riled by plans to ban plastic pitches (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“The costs associated with achieving the highest possible standard of grass pitches, year-round, could be more than £750k per annum, with a large percentage of this attributed to the electricity required to fuel grass growth lamps.

“There’s no question that a top-quality, UEFA-approved artificial surface is far superior, in every respect, than a substandard grass pitch, which we routinely see in the winter months of Scottish football.

“Should Premiership clubs choose to go ahead and vote for a blanket ban on all artificial surfaces, we call upon them to create a fund to support any club which achieves promotion to the Premiership, to cover the cost of implementing the level of grass pitch they expect, which could cost in the region of £1.2m-£1.5m.”

The SPFL’s plans to employ a pitch consultancy firm come after Dundee were fined for the state of their Dens Park surface, which was the subject of five postponements during the season.