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SPFL artificial pitch ban plan 'flawed', say four clubs

Four lower league clubs have described the Scottish Professional Football League's proposal to ban artificial surfaces from the Premiership from 2026 as unfair and "fundamentally flawed".

Raith Rovers, who could be promoted to the top flight after this weekend's play-off final, have issued a joint statement along with Falkirk, Hamilton Academical and Queen of the South.

The SPFL is to issue a resolution to be voted on by all 12 Premiership clubs, with nine votes required for it to pass.

But the four clubs say it would "cause significant long-term damage to Scottish football by undermining sporting integrity, impacting the wider game and creating huge financial entry barriers to the top league".

They expressed disappointment that a "constructive and well-considered alternative proposal" has been adopted or incorporated into the Premiership plan.

"Our view is that this decision is poorly thought through and we do not believe it is acceptable for just 12 clubs to make this decision," the clubs stated, claiming it threatens the solidarity achieved when the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League merged to create the SPFL.

The four clubs argue that, as Scotland is the world's most northerly non-Arctic nation, the "climate simply isn't always conducive to having perfect grass pitches due to high levels of rainfall, minimal sunshine and high cloud coverage".

"The costs associated with achieving the highest possible standard of grass pitches, year-round, could be more than £750,000 per annum, with a large percentage of this attributed to the electricity required to fuel grass growth lamps," they added.

"It is therefore very difficult for the majority of Scottish clubs to achieve the highest possible standard of playing surface, as it is cost prohibitive.

"There's no question that a top-quality, Uefa-approved artificial surface is far superior, in every respect, than a sub-standard grass pitch, which we routinely see in the winter months of Scottish football."

The four clubs suggested there should be stricter rules governing the age and quality of artificial surfaces and financial help of up to £1.5m offered to promoted clubs if a new rule forces them to change to a grass pitch.

With Livingston being relegated this season, Kilmarnock will be left as the only Premiership club with an artificial surface unless Raith are promoted, but the Ayrshire club plan a return to grass in 2025.