With over 149 years of history, Kilmarnock F.C. is not only the oldest Scottish Premiership club but also the oldest professional football club in Scotland. The team from East Ayrshire Although hosts their games at Rugby Park which is one of only two stadia in Scotland with synthetic turf pitch.
This ground has been used by the club since 1899. In 1994/95 it underwent a major redevelopment and became an all-seater stadium with a capacity of 17,889. The synthetic turf has been installed on Rugby Park before 2014/15 season. Besides New Douglas Park in Hamilton, Rugby Park is the only stadium in Scotland with synthetic turf pitch and is not only capable of hosting football matches but also serves for concerts and rugby players. In fact, the match between Scotland and Georgia played on 26 November 2016 was the first rugby union international match featuring a tier 1 nation to be played on artificial surface. The 3G top-quality pitch obviously meets current quality guidelines from FIFA and UEFA.
Killie (the nickname for Kilmarnock F.C.) has avoided relegation in their first season they played on the synthetic turf pitch, hence accomplished their goal for season 2014/15. Club’s manager-at-that-time Allan Johnston has welcomed the new synthetic turf with such words then: “This is a fantastic step by the club and the prospect of training and playing at Rugby Park is really exciting for everyone associated with the first-team squad. Having our own training base and using a top-quality surface with consistent characteristics all year round will be much better for the players.”
All Kilmarnock F.C. youth teams have also started to conduct training session on the artificial turf pitch. Concerts, e.g. the one of Elton John’s have also been organized on the renovated Rugby Park. The entire object became a seven day per week facility and the hub for all of the club’s activities. Also, open training sessions became a regular event. Apparently, the decision to modernize the stadium and install the synthetic turf pitch has had a very good outcome on Kilmarnock’s form in the long term – after avoiding relegation in the season following installation of the synthetic turf, they have consecutively achieved better league positions and currently they are 5th in the Scottish Premier League which is their best result in years. Killie fans are definitely looking forward to the future to see their side battle in European competitions in the upcoming years.