Celtic great Davie Provan slams "embarrassing" artifical surfaces

By David Walton

October 13, 2019

Davie Provan’s opinion on artificial surfaces has been made pretty clear by the former Celtic man this weekend.

In the Premiership, three top-flight clubs play on plastic. Livingston, Kilmarnock, and Hamilton Accies all have the controversial turf, with all three stubborn in moving back to grass.

It continues to be a money-saver for clubs, but it is most certainly coming at the expense of good football. Celtic were rattled 2-0 at the Tony Macaroni Arena last weekend. We’ve also struggled at Hamilton this season, and have, in recent times, found it difficult at Rugby Park too.

Celtic tend to struggle substantially on astroturf (Callum Landells/Getty Images)

But despite the clear advantages it gives the home team, Provan isn’t having them. Speaking in the Scottish Sun, here’s what the ex-Celt had to say.

“Given their budget, Livingston are the miracle club of the Premiership. They’re not pretty, but the honesty of Gary Holt’s team puts other clubs to shame. But don’t tell me they wouldn’t be every bit as effective on grass.

“Their pitch, with clouds of rubber crumbs, is an embarrassment to our Premiership.

“Minutes after Livi beat Celtic last Sunday, Manchester United announced Victor Lindelof would miss the Newcastle game because his back locked on AZ Alkmaar’s plastic pitch. The next astroturf pitch that rivals grass will be a first.”

No signs of any movement on this for the time being

Kilmarnock changed to artificial turf in 2014. Hamilton also refurbished back to plastic in the same year. Livi, meanwhile, actually ripped up their grass pitch after winning promotion to the Premiership just over a year ago.

Hamilton Accies are another with the plastic turf (Richard Sellers/Getty Images)

Not one of those three clubs appear to have any intent on getting rid of the plastic altogether. And there’s also no denying that it gives them a clear advantage.

Good ball-playing teams don’t like playing on artificial turf, and you can see why. The ball sticks far too easily, and it doesn’t matter how high-quality the surface is.

The likes of St Mirren and St Johnstone have proven that it’s easily possible to be a stable Premiership club with a solid grass pitch. It makes for a better product, but that appears to fall on deaf ears when the artificial owners are urged to change things.

Scott Brown is a well-known opposer to artificial pitches (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

A countless amount of high-profile managers and players have come out and slammed the fact that there are these kinds of pitches in Scotland’s top flight.

The defence, of course, is the fact that they can also be seen in places such as Russia, USA, and Switzerland to name a few. But why should that mean we should settle for them? In any case, there’s no willingness for clubs to change things up, and there are no rules in place that will force them to do so.