Pitch quality and atmosphere on the rise as Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) releases its 2016/17 A-League Stadium Ratings Mid-Season Report.

Announced by the PFA today, the report revealed an increase in both the quality of playing surfaces across the league and atmosphere at A-League matches this season compared to last season’s averages.

Voted on by selected players from the away team after each match, the average rating for pitch quality across the league for the opening 14 rounds was up from last season’s average of 3.35 to 3.95 out of a possible five.

Having been voted by the players as the best pitch in the competition last season, Etihad Stadium was narrowly edged out by Perth Glory’s home ground NIB Stadium in the race for top spot, and was closely followed by Coopers Stadium.

The atmosphere created by the Melbourne Victory’s fans was once again recognised by the players and was voted as the competition’s best, followed by Adelaide United’s fans at Coopers Stadium and the Western Sydney Wanderers’ fans at Spotless Stadium.

“On behalf of the PFA Executive I would like to congratulate the staff at NIB Stadium and the Melbourne Victory fans on their deserved recognition, and for setting the benchmark for the competition so far this season,” said PFA Chief Executive John Didulica.

“The quality of the playing surface afforded to players is critical to the quality of the play on it. As such these findings in relation to pitch quality, which are currently tracking ahead of the previous four season’s averages, are encouraging.

“Historically we have seen a drop-off in quality in the latter stages of the season. However, venues are increasingly being educated by clubs on the importance of providing a high quality playing surface, so we have confidence we will not see too steep a decline; although we are bracing ourselves for the return of ‘the Boss’, Bruce Springsteen, next month.”

Perth Glory captain and PFA delegate Rostyn Griffiths said the playing surface at NIB Stadium for the opening rounds of the season was of a world class standard.

“The staff and NIB Stadium have done a brilliant job in providing us with a pitch that is off the highest possible quality and is joy to play on,” said Griffiths.

“The quality of the pitch has an enormous influence on the quality of the game. The pitch at NIB Stadium gives players every opportunity to be at their very best.”

The Full PFA A-League Stadium Ratings Mid Season Report