Artificial turf could be answer as clubs left feeling under weather, says Skinner

Ian Skinner.
Ian Skinner.

Artificial playing surfaces could be the answer for football clubs in their bid to counteract persistent bad weather, reckons Ashington Football Club head coach Ian Skinner.

Skinner was speaking after the Colliers had been hit by a ninth successive postponement when Tuesday’s Ebac Northern League first division away clash against Marske United was called off on Sunday afternoon.

The thumbs-down decision on Teesside, following hard on the heels of last Saturday’s clash with Washington being called off due to a waterlogged pitch at Woodhorn Lane, means that it is over six weeks since the Wansbeck club last tasted competitive action, a 4-1 defeat by Seaham Red Star.

Skinner has been involved in the Northern League for 10 years but cannot ever recall anything like the present disruption to fixtures being caused by bad weather.

“When I was at Brandon United, we had a deluge of heavy snow and lost two and a half weeks, but from being associated with grass-roots junior football stretching back over 20 years to where I am today, I cannot remember losing seven weeks without playing a single game,” he said.

“I’m quite a forward-thinker and happy to modernise and move forward with the times, and I am a big fan of 3G artificial pitches.

“Unless there’s really heavy snow, you can almost guarantee that the game will go ahead and with all-weather surfaces, it can generate income for the club in terms of hiring it out every day of the week.

“However, on the flip side, clubs would be looking at the best part of a cost of £300,000, and people would question if it was worth it. There is also the level of maintenance to consider, but if looked after, the surface will probably last 10 to 12 years.”

Skinner believes that dislike of the substitute turf by players is waning, saying: “Players don’t like the surface for some reason or another, although it tends to be the older ones who have had previous injuries who say that, but artificial pitches are getting better with modern technology as time evolves.

“We are at a stage now when European Championship qualifiers and even Champions League games are being played on them, which are obviously approved by FIFA.”

Dunston UTS will be away to Coleshill Town in the fourth round of the FA Vase this Saturday after their delayed third-round tie against Seaham Red Star finally went ahead last weekend.

UTS won 1-0 after the game was switched to Belle Vue Stadium, the home of the all-weather pitch at Consett in County Durham.