Poor state of play in the Premier League

by admin

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Synonymous with the Premier League today is the huge amounts of money through television, sponsorship and merchandising clubs get. But I want to ask are clubs spending their money in all the correct places?

It is no secret the majority of the money is spent on player’s wages which are quite astronomical. Manchester City for example spends over 100 per-cent of their turnover on wages, Aston Villa’s wages last year accounted for 88 per-cent of the clubs turnover.

Looking at pitches in the past few weeks, in some cases it has been hard to see any grass at all. The Premier League is perceived to be the best in the world, but playing on surfaces more suited to Sunday league football, how can this perception be accepted?

Particularly this season, we have seen numerous matches postponed due to weather and in most cases this has been unavoidable. However Blackpool for example, have had numerous games postponed due to a frozen pitch due to their lack of under soil heating.

Birmingham, Wigan, Wolves and Fulham to name a few, have seen their playing surfaces reduced to barren, bumpy environments in recent weeks. So the question must be asked, why is no money being spent on improving these pitches? Surely after the players, the pitch is the most influential factor in winning games for teams.

It is no coincidence that the team which plays the best football in the league, Arsenal, have the best playing surface, reminiscent of a snooker table. Real Madrid a few years ago even poached Paul Burgess, the head grounds man at Arsenal, to improve their problematic pitch and it cannot be argued that last seasons Champions League Final at the Bernabéu, was played on a surface to match its importance.

The Premier League officials must step in and introduce some sort of guidelines with regards to pitches. Clubs playing in the top flight should not be sharing grounds with rugby teams and under soil heating must be a requirement for every stadium in the top division. If a surface is beginning to become problematic, it is the duty of the club to ensure a new surface is installed. The reported cost of this is comparatively low when considering how much revenue clubs make per season. 

When discussing playing surfaces it is hard not to discuss the most talked about pitch in the world at the supposed home of football, Wembley. It is obvious why UEFA has prohibited any non-footballing events to take place on the pitch before May’s Champions League Final. It does not take a genius to work out that hosting a music concert or a rugby match on a surface intended to play football on, is going to cause some sort of damage.

When I am spending my hard earned money going to watch football at the top level, I do so hoping to be entertained by quick, passing and movement on an exquisite surface. I don’t want to see balls being hoofed by centre backs who are scared to pass ten yards to their midfielders in case a divot causes them to lose possession. After all the late Brian Clough once said, “If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds; he’d have put grass up there.”

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