Wales

Welsh Premier League wants artificial pitch funding

The Welsh Premier League has asked the Welsh government for funding for artificial pitches at its 12 clubs.

New league secretary Gwyn Derfel says clubs could have the pitches as their playing surface or as a training area which the public could use.

He told the Community, Equality and Local Government Committee the pitches would generate income, save clubs £60,000 a year and improve standards.

An inquiry into the 20-year-old league is being held by the committee.

"We were asked how we could improve the league and that's one of our strategies," Mr Derfel told BBC Wales.

"I've always said I would prefer football to be played on grass but we've got to understand where we are at.

"We've had a few problems with some playing surfaces and the league needs to become more sustainable.

"By incorporating this, it would open it to local schools and the local community, engage the community and bring revenue in."

The Welsh Premier League and the professional game in Wales do not currently receive any financial support from the Welsh government.

But Mr Derfel highlighted in a report to the committee, ahead of Wednesday's meeting, that it would also help increase attendances at matches which are already up over the last two seasons under the Super 12 format.

He said the introduction of pitches, at a maximum cost of £5m, would achieve better income for clubs, improve playing standards and increase attendances at matches.

It would also save clubs about £60,000 a year from having to pay to use training facilities elsewhere.

"I firmly believe that the introduction of 3G/4G pitches could contribute greatly to improve all of these three key elements," he told the committee.

"In a perfect world, I'd personally prefer to see WPL football played on high quality grass pitches - but we have to live in the real world and there's no doubt in my mind that 3G/4G pitches can transform the fortunes of all of our WPL clubs."

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