The Australian Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the exclusive representative body of the Socceroos and A-League players, today announced the introduction of the “PFA Pitch Rating System” in a move designed to ensure first class football pitches and player health and safety in the A-League.The PFA’s decision follows widespread concerns from players and fans about the quality of some A-League playing surfaces in 2008/2009.

The system, based on a model successfully implemented in Holland by VVCS, the Dutch players’ union, will see the captains of visiting teams assess A-League pitches on a weekly basis by reference to four key criteria:

  • the overall quality of the field for top tier professional football;
  • the smoothness of the surface to encourage passing, dribbling and ball control;
  • the pace of the field for the same purposes; and
  • the hardness of the pitch.

“The decision to introduce the PFA Pitch Rating System is in line with international practice and is intended to bring some much needed accountability to an area of fundamental importance to player safety and the quality and presentation of the game,” PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab said today.

“The PFA Pitch Rating System will provide  constant input from the players themselves on whether the playing surface is up to the standard expected for top flight professional football.  This will allow for the public acknowledgement of surfaces of a consistently high quality or early intervention where a surface presents itself as a risk to either the quality of the spectacle or player safety.

“As Australian football quite rightly focuses its attention on building the technical quality of the game, it is essential that players are provided with playing surfaces that allow them to fully express and show their technical prowess.  This will lead to an even better spectacle for the fans.

“In order to become a mature football nation, those responsible for the preparation of A-League pitches need to appreciate that football demands a playing surface of a much higher quality than would be acceptable for AFL or either rugby code.”