Sports teams started using the synthetic fibres in the 1960s with baseball and American football teams leading the way.
Football clubs adopt synthetic pitches but they are not permitted in the Premier League or Football League but are in the National League and lower leagues. Loftus Road, home of QPR, was the first English ground to lay a plastic pitch in 1981. (BBC Sport)
Oldham Athletic won promotion to the top flight while using a plastic pitch in 1991.
Plastic pitches were banned from English professional football in 1995 after four clubs - QPR, Luton Town, Oldham Athletic and Preston North End - tried them during the 1980s. Concerns about injuries and unfair disadvantage to the home side saw the return of grass pitches.
However, the pitches became very popular for five-aside football before coming into wider use in 11-aside soccer and rugby.
In 2004, FIFA approved the use of artificial grass in international matches.
In 2007 the England national team lost 2-1 to Russia in a European Championship qualifier on a plastic pitch in Moscow. (BBC Sport)
We saw the first instance of a ‘hybrid’ synthetic pitch installed at Wembley stadium. The stadium’s pitch is enhanced by desso technology which combines synthetic grass with the real Wembley grass to strengthen the surface. (Wembleystadium.com)
Mario Ballotelli has an allergic reaction to grass during a Europa League defeat to Dynamo Kiev…That’s one big player in the YES camp.
Thierry Henry voices his distaste for playing on the turf - “That is the worst thing for any athlete, playing on turf. I mean no disrespect to the guys playing in the NFL and all of that. They are on the field for one, two seconds sometimes for a play. We run for one-and-a-half hours. That’s not an easy one.”
3G pitches allowed in all rounds of FA Cup (BBC Sport)
The entire 2015 Women’s World Cup was played on artificial surfaces in Canada where temperatures plummet in the winter. However, 50 players sign a petition for regular grass to be used.
Artificial pitches become commonplace in Europe and the possibility of their reintroduction in England has been raised recently by reformed Maidstone United's success on a 3G pitch.
The FA, meanwhile, ultimately overseers of operations at National League level, remain huge fans of the surface. FIFA and Russia decided that having an artificial pitch has more benefits than an ordinary grass pitch.
“One of the things we know about Spain and France and Germany and others who are good at football is that they have a lot more artificial grass pitches than we have,” said chairman Greg Clarke in a recent interview
The Football Conference will 3G pitches in all three divisions from the start of the 2015-16 season. The Conference will now become the highest level of English league football to allow the use of artificial pitches (BBC Sport).
38 year old Didier Drogba 38-year-old misses first games of the season for MLS team Montreal Impact: “Didier won’t be available for the beginning of the season while we’re training or playing on [artificial] turf,” Braz said. “It’s too big of a risk for us to take with him with his knee. As we saw last year when we played [on artificial turf] in New England, his knee really swelled up and he really had a tough time recovering afterwards for the playoffs.”
Arsenal famously travels to Sutton Utd in the FA cup 5th round. Much of the pre-match talk revolves around how Arsenal will fare on the their artificial pitch. Danny Welbeck doesn’t feature. Piegate!
Express reports that plastic pitches are ‘back on the agenda for League one and Two as early as 2019.’
As part of a full review of stadium criteria, EFL clubs will vote in June whether to allow artificial surfaces in League football for the first time in 25 years.
The World Cup final in Russia will be played on a part plastic pitch for the first time
At the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
The Pro’s and Cons of Artificial Turf in Football
Saves on training facilities - clubs can train on the same pitch in which they play.
Can lead to additional income for clubs - lower league clubs can rent out pitches.
Environmentally friendly with lower maintenance costs.
3g pitches have vastly improved since the 80s and are now designed to reproduce the playing qualities of natural grass.
Better drainage for more usage in winter months - these pitches overcomes difficult climatic conditions.
Tradition - many believe football should be played on grass.
A different game - a decrease in the quality of passing, speed of the game and impact on the body.
Can be costly for lower league clubs to install (average installation cost £400,000).
Top player complaints - many top players have complained about playing on artificial pitches. Top clubs practice on grass and so the transition may be difficult.
Perceived increase in injuries - but no conclusive evidence!