Artificial turf has come a long way since the first experiments of the 1970s and 80s. Back then, the only real soccer matches that were played on artificial turf had been in the ill-fated North American Soccer League, a competition that had the air of a glorified exhibition match. Artificial turf was used by some English football clubs subsequently, with Queens Park Rangers, Luton Town and Oldham Athletic all installing artificial turf during the 80s.
However, this turf was akin to playing on concrete in many ways. Issues about ball bounce and run, injuries to players and the handing of an unfair advantage to home teams who used the surface, saw the experiments abandoned at the top level of football in Britain until fairly recently.
Within the last decade or so, the technology which is used to construct artificial playing surfaces has improved so much that it is almost unrecognisable from those early efforts of the 1980s. Efforts were made to mimic the effects of real turf by the use of small plastic balls, or later rubber crumbs, which acted to dampen bounce and lessen the damage done to sliding players` legs.
Artificial turf is now deemed adequate for international and club competitions and many major matches have been played on artificial surfaces in Russia, for example. However, there are still concerns expressed by many sports people that the surface will somehow play an automatically negative part in the game as a spectacle. England have actually played an international against Russia on artificial turf. Although there is a tendency to use anything as an excuse in the world of professional football, objective observers saw little to complain about.
The truth is that there is now very little difference between high quality artificial turf and the real thing. Most top football stadia now have a playing surface which is so well-tended and firm that it is a world away from the heavier pitches of days gone by. The bounce is much higher than it used to be on grass and there seems to be very little in the way of divots or lumps which negatively alter the path of the ball.
This means that there is actually very little difference at the highest level between playing on real turf and an artificial surface. The fact that modern day artificial surfaces have actually been installed at professional rugby league clubs like Widnes Vikings and Leigh Centurions shows that concerns about damage to players are largely unfounded too. The surface has speeded up the rugby played at the two clubs, but has exerted no perceptible negative influence.
If you are considering having an artificial playing surface installed at your club or venue it is best to seek some professional advice. The best place to find this kind of specialist advice is at a store which offers artificial grass for sale. They should be able to assess your needs and requirements and point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing the kind of installation that you will need.