STATEMENT re IMPROVING PITCHES PETITION
Last updated: 3.50pm, Monday 18th February 2019
There have been a lot of newspaper articles, columns and discussions over the past few days arising from the Improving Pitches Petition. Many have been factually inaccurate so we welcome the opportunity to clear up a few points and explain the process of how the Petition came about.
Firstly, and important to note, the Improving Pitches Petition is a Petition and NOT a survey as has been misrepresented – no questions were asked, the players simply had to read and agree the wording by signing their name to it.
The Petition is PLAYER led, it was NOT initiated by PFA Scotland. It is the players calling for change. At this season’s 42 PFA Scotland club visits, the players were very vocal in their frustration at the state of pitches/surfaces they are being asked to play on week-in, week-out across the SPFL.
Off the back of these visits, a proposal from players at a Premiership club was brought to our Management Committee – which is made up of players across the four SPFL Divisions – calling for action in the form of a Petition to be sent to the SPFL making their views clear. This was discussed at length, and approved by, the Management Committee who requested that PFA Scotland put together a Petition for players across the leagues to sign.
After more lengthy discussion and debate, the Management Committee also agreed it would be unfair to ask the players at Hamilton, Kilmarnock and Livingston to sign the Petition as by criticising their own club they could potentially be in breach of their contract. Players’ contracts, similar to those in any work place, have a clause prohibiting them from criticising their employer either orally or in writing, publicly or privately.
We have had a situation where a player was heavily fined by his Club for criticising his own pitch in a post-match interview.
As a Trade Union, it would be irresponsible for us to put our members in that position. Members at these clubs were made aware of the existence of the Petition and the reasons for their non-involvement.
It should be noted that the Petition - signed by 230 first team players at nine Premiership clubs and 30 Club Reps in the Championship, League One and League Two on behalf of their teammates - is the collective voice of the players from across 39 clubs in the SPFL and it is their hope that going forward they will be involved in any discussions regarding pitch improvement.
Ultimately, it’s the views of the decision makers that will prevail, although the views of players and managers are difficult to ignore. Our petition reflects the views of the professional players who play on them.
The strong and powerful message from our members is clear and unambiguous. Any member who has a query should not hesitate to pick up the phone and call his union.