fbpx

3G pitches to help clubs in a post-COVID world

As football clubs around the world deal with the COVID-19 health crisis, the future use of more artificial pitches could help organisations navigate around these financially distressing times.

That is at least the view of former FA technical director Dan Ashworth, stating that the FIFA-approved football turf provides opportunities for clubs to host various events and pursue the development of their own academies.

In the UK, Maidstone United were the first ever English club to build a brand-new stadium using the highest quality 3G artificial surface.

That was in 2012, and since then, other notable clubs in the non-league divisions including Sutton United, Harrogate Town and Bromley have all made the move (in the National League) and installed 3G pitches.

The English Football League have considered allowing 3G fields in League 1 and 2, however, a vote in 2014 on the matter was tied.

This means that any club playing on an artificial pitch has to remove the surface if they want to be promoted into the EFL, even though 3G fields are allowed for the Women’s World Cup, Champions League and many other professional leagues in Europe.

Similar articles:

Heidelberg United: Modernising youth development with SoccerPLAY

The Bundesliga continues to build its reputation as football’s innovation benchmark

Joint-owner of Maidstone United Oliver Ash believes Dan Ashwoth is right in saying 3G pitches should be a prominent option for EFL clubs impacted financially by COVID-19.

He told fcbusiness: “With this terrible Covid-19 crisis affecting so many people and damaging so many football clubs, which are vital to their communities, we have to think outside the box if we are to avoid financial meltdown.

“Going forward it will all be about sustainability. Clubs will have to find ways of making their businesses sustainable in the interests of their supporters and their actual survival. One obvious way of achieving this is by installing a 3G pitch.

“We have now had five years’ experience of 3G pitches in the National League. We have seen supporters and players embrace the change in playing surface; we have seen that the highest quality 3G pitches encourage good football but also allow physical players to get stuck in; we have seen no particular injury problems, a welcome absence of postponements, and local people coming in their droves to watch and play football at our clubs seven days a week. It’s been life-changing in a totally positive way.”

Ash estimates that those clubs who decide to use 3G fields can generate a further £400,000 worth of income a year. This is the case because of direct pitch-hire revenue as well as indirect earnings from supporters coming into the club. Savings are also made on maintenance and postponements.

Using his own club as an example, Ash explained Maidstone United have registered a profit every season since the pitch was installed eight years ago.

“We know and respect the fact that some people still prefer to play on natural surfaces, even down in League 2, where pitch quality is inconsistent,” he said.

“However, the benefits of 3G pitches are so massive and the problems facing football so huge, it would be irrational not to give League 2 clubs the option to install them without delay and take advantage of the opportunity to transform their clubs into sustainable businesses capable of surviving this crisis and thriving thereafter,” he concluded.

Maidstone United, Sutton United, Bromley and Harrogate Town are the leaders in advocating for change in the EFL.

With leading experts in the game looking to restructure football in some capacity, what is generally the norm may be no more.

One day in the near future, these clubs could have access to the EFL without having to give up their 3G pitches.

On a local front, are 3G pitches a suitable idea for NPL and A-League clubs? Get in touch with us via email or our social channels.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game. Follow him on Twitter @PhilipPanas

Football Queensland announces independent governance review of the sport

Football Queensland have announced sport governance experts DHW Simpson Advisory will conduct an independent review of the governance of football in the sunshine state.

The assessment will occur as part of the governing body’s Future of Football 2020+ consultation process.

The Future of Football 2020+ plan looks to address four key areas including governance, administration, competitions and affordability.

Governance expert Dale Wood will deliver the findings of the review.

“Dale Wood is highly regarded and well credentialed and is a major boost for the Future of Football 2020+ journey. Dale’s governance experience spans over 20 years in sport, having worked on major reform projects including the highly regarded 2003 Crawford Report into Australian football governance,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

“The independent review will dive into the layers of the game’s governance in Queensland including their constitutions, congress and composition. The review will also consider Football Queensland’s board processes and procedures, board charters and by laws; along with lessons from good governance frameworks from other sporting organisations.

“Dale’s extensive experience in sport governance projects will bolster the outcomes for the future of football in the state as we work to deliver the benchmark in governance and the optimal outcome for the game in Queensland,” Cavallucci concluded.

The Future of Football 2020+ consultation process invites those involved in the game to provide feedback that will help shape the future of the sport.

Two club summits have already been held in Cairns and Townsville, with more events scheduled to take place in South West Queensland and Wide Bay.

More information about the Future of Football 2020+ plan can be viewed here.

La Liga to release broadcasting innovations documentary

La Liga is set to release a documentary detailing the broadcast innovations it has introduced since the league’s return in June.

The programme is titled ‘BehindTheCameras’ and is a one-off documentary. It will be shown on La Liga’s broadcast partners around the world and focuses on how the Spanish top-flight and the broadcast team were able to create a virtual atmosphere for matches.

A virtual atmosphere became necessary after the league returned without crowds. However, they’ve committed to giving fans the best home experience possible.

The documentary shows how they used virtual stands and crowd audio to improve its television broadcast. The stands displayed to-scale images of fans as well as the home team’s colours and club slogans. The league worked with Norwegian company VIZRT to create this experience.

Crowd audio was also used thanks to EA Sports who had previously recorded audio of fans. New camera angles were also a part of the virtual experience – different cameras and angles were used such as aerial cameras.

“It will focus in particular on how La Liga has offered virtual atmosphere as part of its broadcasts across the last 11 match days. The one-off programme will be aired around the world by La Liga’s international broadcasters,” La Liga said in a statement on Friday.

“Broadcasting a live sporting event with virtual crowd noise has been a veritable challenge for La Liga, a pioneer in this kind of virtualisation, and a step unprecedented among sports leagues around the world.

“With this in mind, La Liga has decided to offer a behind the scenes view of the entire process and show fans the innovation and hard work which underpins the technology.

“The BehindTheCameras documentary will showcase everything that has gone on behind the scenes and feature interviews with those who have played a major role in making it possible, including La Liga’s Audiovisual Director Melcior Soler; Head of TV Production at LaLiga Sergio Sanchez; Match Director at Mediapro Oscar Lago; and wTVision’s Willem van Breukelen.”

This is the second documentary La Liga has produced, following TodayWePlay, which premiered last month. TodayWePlay focused on the creation of the Return to Competition Protocol during the league’s break due to the Coronavirus.

Heidelberg United: Modernising youth development with SoccerPLAY

At all levels of the game technology is having a profound impact on football. While spectators focus largely on tools like VAR and goal-line technology, coaches and administrators are increasingly turning to sports science and innovation to seek a competitive advantage.

It was searching for this competitive edge that led Chris Theodorou, Football Programs Manager at Heidelberg FC to SoccerPLAY, an online management system which is revolutionising the club’s youth development.

“SoccerPLAY does more than just support coaches, it allows clubs to create a structure and a style. It’s a methodology,” Theodorou says.

SoccerPLAY is currently being used by more than 100 clubs and football federations around the world, including AC Milan and the Dutch Football Association.

The system gives users access to more than 800 exercises and training drills which can use to create training programs, improve specific skills, and track player development.

“The structure is phenomenal. It allows a football department to put together a program that can be accessed on a phone, tablet or computer,” he adds.

“It helps to keep training fresh and there are different formats for each exercise, so it provides coaches with all the tools they need to feel supported,” he adds.

Coaches can also create their own exercises which they can upload onto the system and form training schedules in weekly, fortnightly, or monthly blocks.

“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Sporting organisations love to see their coaches turning up well prepared and with this system they will never run out of ideas,” Theodorou says.

“There are different objectives listed, so a coach or technical director can search specifically to find relevant exercises. From basics like first touch, passing, and movement to more advanced things such as building from the back and possession play, there are different formats of drills for everything.”

Each of SoccerPLAY’s  training exercises comes with a detailed guide on how to execute the drill correctly. This includes information on what equipment is needed, an animation providing an overview of the movements, and a real-life instructional video designed to demonstrate correct technique.

Theodorou highlights the video depicting technique as a particularly valuable tool for Australian coaches.

“The instructional videos are technique-focused because in Europe if you can’t pass, you can’t play. Whereas here in Australia we emphasise going hard and fast,” he says.

As SoccerPLAY is designed to incorporate youth development for all ages, there are exercises that are suitable for players in the under-6 age bracket through to under-19’s.

Many of the drills have variations which provide coaches the option to simplify them or make them more challenging, depending on the age group and skill level of the players.

“You don’t want to give five or six-year-old players too much information, so the drills are simple in order not to overcomplicate things. It’s also recommended that you don’t change what they are doing too often, whereas with older groups you can be more creative,” Theodorou says.

In addition to assisting coaches with an overarching training program, SoccerPLAY allows football departments an unprecedented ability to track individual player development.

“The player tracking is awesome. You can record a player’s results in agility tests, beep tests, sprint tests and so forth then track how they improve over the course of the year. At Heidelberg we aim to do these three or four times over the year to measure their developments,” Theodorou says.

“You can also track how players are performing in matches by uploading statistics and video snippets to their profile. For example, you can upload clips of a player doing something really well or if they’ve made a mistake, then you can show them the footage in order to identify learning opportunities.”

The key to SoccerPLAY’s effectiveness is the calibre of its designers, Dutch football experts Patrick Ladru, Bram Meurs and David Zonneveld. All three have all had distinguished careers within football, specifically youth development and education.

Among their many achievements, Ladru was a youth manager and then scout at AFC Ajax, Meurs played at PSV Eindhoven and now operates as a sports psychologist, and Zonneveld served as a youth coach at FC Volendam and now specialises in motorised learning for children.

“Ladru has worked with Johan Cruyff and the likes, he creates many of the exercises himself. Bram focuses more on the mental components of the system and what sort of actions players need to do off the ball and then there’s David, who specialises in teaching players behaviours and habits,” Theodorou says.

In Australia, SoccerPLAY is just beginning to gain traction with Heidelberg United being one of the first clubs to adopt the system.

As an active user of the program, Theodorou believes Australian football should be more open to stepping away from traditional practices and embracing new ideas.

“This is where FFA and FFV are missing the mark. Our national youth teams are not making World Cups so how are our seniors going to make World Cups in the future?” he says.

“The coaches that have embraced SoccerPLAY here think it’s unbelievable, its designed to be simple and effective.”

© 2020 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks