Chairman adds fuel to artificial pitch debate after injury woes

Mark Goldsack on 3G pitches

Mark Goldsack (inset), chairman of Soham Town Rangers FC, believes artificial pitches should only be used for training and not for competitive matches after three of his players got injured on them. - Credit: Archant/Unsplash

A football club chairman does not believe “anything can be done” to stop artificial pitches being used for matches after three of his players suffered the same injury on them. 

Mark Goldsack has criticised the use of artificial pitches after three Soham Town Rangers players sustained dislocated shoulders after falling onto the surface. 

Mr Goldsack said: “I don’t think there’s anything that can be done to stop them being used in games, but it’s a choice clubs have to make.” 

The issue arose after striker Sam Mulready was injured after falling onto an artificial pitch in Soham’s Northern Premier League Division One Midlands clash at Coleshill Town on November 6. 

Sam Mulready in action for Soham Town Rangers FC

Striker Sam Mulready was the latest casualty for Soham Town Rangers after dislocating his shoulder on an artificial pitch at Coleshill Town. - Credit: Daniel Mason

That injury came three weeks after Jake Andrews and Lloyd Groves were hurt in Rangers’ game at Ilkeston Town, who also do not play on natural turf. 

Mr Goldsack questioned whether more injuries take place on artificial as opposed to natural grass pitches, and feels there is an air of coincidence. 

“The injuries were not down to Coleshill or Ilkeston, but if you’re playing on plastic pitches, it’s a different game,” he said. 

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“There has to be coincidence between three shoulder injuries and none of those happened on grass pitches.   

“They are, in effect, like a cash cow and I think had the falls been on a natural grass pitch, there is potential for the same outcome.” 

Mark Goldsack

Mark Goldsack raised his concerns over use of 3G pitches in competitive football after three Soham Town Rangers players picked up injuries on the surface. - Credit: Archant

Sport England say they assessed independent studies on safety issues surrounding 3G pitches, which have reported “a very low level of concern for human health”. 

Mr Goldsack believes it is a problem amongst different age groups due to how often they may have used artificial pitches. 

Soham have invested in their pitch at their Julius Martin Lane ground, but are open to the idea of installing an artificial surface for training. 

But although he is campaigning for youth clubs to use 3G pitches during the winter months, Mr Goldsack feels they take “the soul out of the club. 

Julius Martin Lane, Soham, Cambridgeshire

Mark Goldsack said Soham will not look to invest in an artificial pitch at their Julius Martin Lane ground. - Credit: Daniel Mason

“At Soham, we’ve invested in technology and advice to get the best pitch possible, and our surface is as good as we have seen this season.  

“A good grass pitch will always be better than 3G. 

“For training, I think 3G pitches are perfect but for full-blown matches, I have my reservations.”