Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has today welcomed a rise in playing surface quality and atmosphere across the W-League, but called for more to be done to ensure players were provided with a workplace that reflects the standard of play on the pitch and the increasing demands made of them.

PFA Player Relations Executive Kathryn Gill made the announcement following the release of the PFA’s 2015/16 W-League Stadium Ratings, which aim to increase the awareness of safety and the importance of first-class surfaces. They also recognise the fans as a key pillar for the growth of the W-League.

Voted on by the visiting team’s captain at the end of each match, who rate each criteria out of five, with five being the highest or best, the ratings showed an increase in pitch quality across the competition up from 3.13 for the 2014 season, to 3.58 for the 2015/16 campaign.

The atmosphere average was also up, having risen from 3.07 for 2014 to 3.23 for the 2015/16 season.

Venues which are regularly used for A-League matches also had higher atmosphere and pitch rating averages as opposed to stadiums that did not host A-League games.

With the majority of  W-League teams having utilised multiple home grounds throughout the season, Melbourne City consistently provided the best playing surface with their fans also creating the best atmosphere in the competition, followed by the Brisbane Roar fans.

“The improvements made in pitch quality and atmosphere are encouraging, with the rise in atmosphere further highlighting the fast growing appetite for the women’s game and the key role fans have to play in driving progress for the W-League,” said Gill.

“Whilst these are positive steps there were a number of playing surfaces used throughout the season which were simply unacceptable for Australia’s premier women’s competition, with Perth Glory’s homeground Ashfield Reserve consistently rating poorly.

“The playing surface not only has a major impact on players’ health and safety, but also on the ability of players to be at their best.

“The findings highlighted the benefits of taking as many W-League matches to venues used for A-League games as possible. This provides players with a better surface, which affects the quality on the pitch and the atmosphere in the ground, two fundamental components of growth for the competition.”

PFA W-League Pitch Ratings 2015-16

Image by Chad Gibson / Local FC