New professional football stadium fields in Scotland and Wales

Last month has been important for the football club Stenhousemuir from the Scottish second division as well as the club Newton AFC from the Welsh Premier League as they got new professional football stadia with synthetic turf.


Stenhousemuir plays its home matches at Ochilview Park, which has initially opened in 1890. The stadium has a capacity of 3746 with 626 of them seated. The name Ochilview derives from the nearby Ochil Hills which are visible from the stadium. In 1928 a new main stand was constructed with bench seating for 310 spectators. It was built to replace the previous stand which was gutted by a fire in the same year.

In 1951 Ochilview wrote itself into Scottish football history when it was the venue of the first ever floodlit match in Scotland, during a friendly against Hibernian on 7 November 1951. In 1994, Stenhousemuir were considering relocation, having provisionally agreed to sell Ochilview to a supermarket chain for £2.5 million. The scheme, however, was frustrated by planning regulations, and instead it was decided to upgrade the existing stadium.

Apart from the new main stand, only one side of the ground is usually in use for spectators, this being the terracing at the Tryst Road end (west). In season 2004–05, a new roof was installed here, constructed by club volunteers. The former grass banking at the east end of Ochilview was removed some years ago, and the area has since been flattened and replaced with artificial pitches for community use.

Newton AFC

At Newtown the present Officials and Committee would like to think that the facilities at Mid Wales Leisure Latham Park and the playing structure illustrate what is good about the Welsh Football scene. The Club are involved in a continuous programme of improvements both on and off the field of play but know the base for this kind of development was set when the Club moved to the site in 1951. 

Over the years Newtown have had a number of homes but the Officials and General Committee of the late 1940’s took the decision to construct a new playing headquarters at the site which was named Latham Park. The reward for a great deal of community efforts was the opening of Latham Park in August 1951. The first competitive game took place on August 25th, 1951 when Newtown beat Aberystwyth in the Central Wales League 4 – 0 in front of 1,211 spectators.                                      

The ground capacity today is fixed at 5,000 and the original Stand has 210 seats with a further covered accommodation for approximately 500. A new 400 seater stand was completed during the 1997/98 season. The Officials are continually reviewing the programme of ground improvements with a quality playing surface always being seen as an important factor.

The ownership of the Ground is an asset many Clubs would wish to have and the far sighted and progressive policy of previous Committees at the Club is illustrated by this fact. Enhancing and expanding the changing facilities to accommodate youth and community involvement is another strand to the developments the Club have in mind.

The Club welcomes its visitors in the hope that they will return at some time again in the near future to enjoy the facilities and hospitality the Club offers. The club aims to create a regional centre facility which will regularly attract high profile games and be an asset for the local sporting community.


While the Scottish club already gained experiences with synthetic turf before, the Welsh club chose the pitch to ensure consistent conditions all year long.

The Amlin Challenge Cup Final is played on FieldTurf synthetic turf

FieldTurf makes history! Never before has a European final of a professional major sport like rugby been played on synthetic turf. On Friday 23rd May, Cardiff Arms Park, equipped with FieldTurf’s state-of-the-art Optimum 65 RGF surface, will host the Amlin Challenge Cup.

Bath Rugby and the Northampton Saints face off in one of the most prestigious European championship, with the amicable consent of the Heineken Cup, both organised by the ERC (European Rugby Cup). It took several years for such a high-level competition to be played on synthetic grass, but performance and security of the surface, supported by several tests certified by the the world governing body for the Game of Rugby Union, the IRB, have convinced both organisers and professional players.

IRB Head of Technical Services, Steve Griffiths, said: “It is very clear in this modern age that the quality of third-generation turf produced and installed by reliable and experienced manufacturers like the IRB preferred turf producers, and in this case FieldTurf, provides a safe and consistent playing surface in all weather conditions.”

The rivals (that are also competing in the Aviva Premiership League, the highest category of the English professional Rugby Football Union) know very well the quality advantages provided by FieldTurf’s synthetic grass system they’ll play on, thanks to the Cardiff Blues players, the tittle defenders.

“I don’t think the players from Northampton Saints or Bath Rugby will have any problems with adapting to the surface and, after all, they will both have played at the Saracens’ home at Allianz Park. I think they’ll enjoy it and everyone can look forward to a very fast and open final […] It is much easier to run on than a grass surface and it is great for the kickers. The ball bounces a little differently, but you soon get used to that”, said Dafydd Hewitt, a Cardiff Blues club player.

So far, only a handful of European championships qualifying matches have been played on synthetic turf. For example, Champions League football matches such as CSKA Moscow against Real Madrid and Spartak Moscow against FC Barcelona, both in 2012, went ahead on the most innovative FieldTurf surfaces.

On Friday, FieldTurf’s synthetic grass will make history once again at Cardiff Arms Park, as one of the top elite professional sports surfaces worldwide. The stage is set for a superb final. Now all we can hope is that the best team wins!

ESTO seeks positive decision from Football League

The European Synthetic Turf Organisation (ESTO) has pledged its commitment to profiling the benefits of synthetic turf in sport, as it champions a positive decision in advance of the Football League’s review into the use of artificial surfaces next month.

The results of the consultation period, which closed on 30 April 2012, will be released as part of a report to all Member Clubs, when the issues will be debated at Football League Board meetings and at the Chairmen’s Conference on 31 May / 01 June 2012.

The use of synthetic turf in professional football is prevalent throughout the top tiers of the sport in Italy, Holland and France, as well as European competitions including the Europa League and Champions League; indicative of the backing already in place from both UEFA and FIFA.

The option to switch to using synthetic turf does not only guarantee a better playing surface in terms of its consistency and quality, but, significantly, meets a requirement which underpins decisions made by the majority of football clubs, that is, the assurance of financial sustainability.

A synthetic turf pitch provides clubs with a substantial additional revenue stream, by enabling the use of the pitch and the ground’s facilities for commercial use; consequently, it also facilitates wider engagement between the club and its fans and the local community.

Commenting on the impending result from the Football League review, Nigel Fletcher, executive chairman of ESTO, said: “The introduction of synthetic turf within professional football is not only of positive significance to the club itself, but also for a country’s football development strategy; Holland and Italy are just two affirmative examples of this.

“As one of the world’s leading footballing nations, the next step is to allow English clubs the option to experience the momentous benefits that can be created by synthetic turf, for both the Football League clubs and the entire non-league structure.”

The decision will follow the recent announcement from the Football League that will see the implementation of its own Financial Fair Play regulations across all three divisions, based on the similar rulings already in place by UEFA for teams in the top divisions across Europe.

“In the last decade, 23 of the 92 professional clubs in England have entered into some form of administration; eight of which have done so more than once. The introduction of synthetic turf will provide a much-needed financial boost for clubs and a recent report by KPMG, commissioned by ESTO, proves that the business model works,” confirms Nigel Fletcher.

“During my time at FIFA and in my capacity as executive chairman of ESTO, I saw many immediate and positive benefits for clubs who switched to synthetic turf; club development enhanced, community initiatives were established and youth development programmes were launched all because of the durability and quality of the playing surface.

“No longer did you need a sign saying ‘keep off the pitch’. The new pitch was the starting point for a club’s sustainable development, both on and off the pitch, and one must not forget that for many smaller clubs, the pitch can be their most important asset,” explains Nigel Fletcher.

Rob Heys, chief executive of Football League Two side Accrington Stanley, is one of the long-term advocates of a return to synthetic turf. Commenting on how clubs can benefit from synthetic turf, Rob said: “The commercial benefits of installing a synthetic turf pitch really do stack up as there is an income to be gained from hiring the pitch out and money to be saved in maintenance costs.

“The fact we can use the pitch for training as well as the benefit to the community, from getting people down to the ground seven days a week rather than just 23 times a season for home fixtures, would make a massive difference to a club of our size and, I believe, a number of other Football League clubs, all of whom are constantly looking at new ways to generate revenue to continue operating.”

ESTO will be holding a media briefing today (17/05/12) at the Sofitel, St. James, London. The event will profile the benefits and successes of synthetic turf within sport, in advance of the impending announcement from the Football League next month.