We have a competitive league just now. It’s interesting, there have been good games at the top of the league. But, if I’m watching TV on a Sunday, you’ve got perfect pitches and full stadiums in England. Invariably, if you saw one of those three pitches, the viewer would say ‘what the hell’s that?!’ That’s not what you’re seeing on the other channels.
If we want to sell the Scottish product around the world, you can’t with these pitches, because they turn the viewer off.
If you go to the Masters in America and see plastic greens, that would be the end of the Masters.
That’s not the way it’s played. These pitches don’t benefit our game at all. It’s embarrassing and disappointing. On one hand we’re saying we’re improving, but then, on the other hand, our league is that good we’re playing on plastic pitches.
The best players in the world, at the World Cup, the Champions League, and so on, all play on grass. Playing on plastic pitches isn’t football. If you don’t believe me, host the Europa League final at the Tony Macaroni stadium and see how well it goes down.
If we sell the Scottish game properly, that means we can get more money and pay players better to stop them from going to Salford City or Peterborough or all sorts of clubs in England. We should be keeping the best players in our game and having a right good league.
Manager don’t want plastic pitches
There are three people I feel sorry for in this situation, and that’s the managers of Kilmarnock, Livingston, and Hamilton. It’s like the Alamo for them – except at least John Wayne and the rest of them wanted to be there. I don’t think Stevie Clarke and Gary Holt want to be defending plastic pitches while the Mexicans circle.
For them, that’s just the way things are at their clubs. I met Billy Bowie, the Killie chairman, who’s done a great job there by the way, in La Manga a few years back, and he said Kilmarnock is a community club. That’s fine. But go and be like Spartans in Edinburgh, if that’s what you want to do.
If you want to be a professional club, do the professional thing.
No matter what they say, no pro wants to play on an artificial surface. Those three managers don’t like it, either, they just can’t say that. Anyone who says they do is either lying or just very strange indeed.
Fans hate them too
Fans like to see players taking opponents on, leaving them on their backside. That’s what they want to see. Exciting individual moments, like game-saving slide tackles, or dramatic diving headers. Things that make the game more engaging.
What you get on plastic pitches is functional football. No defender can go to ground, and it’s not easy for wingers to send a guy the wrong way because of how sticky the surface is. It’s boring. I think people when they turn on the TV and see a plastic pitch, will change the channel and watch the golf, or something else. It’s not entertaining. It’s like watching a non-league game.
I remember playing at Dynamo Moscow with Celtic. We trained on the pitch the night before and it was covered in sand, brick hard, everything running, but we got used to it. The next day, they battered it with water, and it was like a skating rink – it took us twenty minutes to find out which way we were going. By then we were behind.