A-League Players vote Stadium pitch the best

Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) today announced that the players voted Brisbane Roar’s Suncorp Stadium as the best pitch in the A-League for the second consecutive year.

Suncorp led the way with Adelaide’s Hindmarsh Stadium and the A-League’s newest venue AAMI Park also rated highly.

Chief Executive Brendan Schwab was joined by Brisbane Roar’s players before their A-League Grand Final this weekend to honour Suncorp’s Grounds Manager, Mal Caddies and his team on their achievement and congratulate the Minister for Sport, Phil Reeves.

Schwab was delighted to present the award to Mal Caddies.

“Once again Mal and his team have set the standard for A-League playing surfaces,” said Schwab. “Queensland has experienced an unprecedented period of wet weather which culminated in January’s flooding of the stadium however the standard of football played on the surface since the flood has remained high. Suncorp scored a rating of 4 (out of 5) in the one league game played since this time and the 2 – 2 draw in the semi final with Central Coast was considered by many as the game of the season.”

Brisbane Roar defender and PFA Executive Member Shane Stefanutto emphasised how a quality playing surface has enhanced the Roar’s football this season.

“We’ve built our success on a high tempo, passing game and a quality playing surface is fundamental to the team executing this,” said Stefanutto. “When I saw the devastation caused to the stadium by January’s floods it was difficult to comprehend how Mal and his team could reinvigorate the surface into what we see today. Their efforts have ensured that this weekend’s Grand Final will be a spectacle that all Queenslanders can be proud of and our side will have the best possible opportunity to achieve the result we desire.”

Schwab also announced that A-League players have raised $70,000 for the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal.

Accepting the award, Sport Minister Phil Reeves thanked the players for their award.

“It’s great to receive this feedback from A-League players about the quality of the venues they play at in Queensland,” Mr Reeves said.

“This is great recognition for the hard work that goes into preparing these pitches week in week out.

“It’s also great to see the PFA and players rallying around Queensland and raising some much-needed funds for the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal.

“The Roar players responded during the time of crisis - they were out manning the evacuation centres, playing football with the kids and bringing a smile to the faces of those in need.

“They made a huge contribution and I’m sure the people of Brisbane will be out in force this weekend to support them in the Grand Final.

“The Roar have lifted the spirits of all of Brisbane, and the sight of seeing a full house at Suncorp will demonstrate to all Australians that Brisbane and Queensland are open for business, both on and off the sports field.”

Whilst the PFA Pitch Rating System has demonstrated the quality of some of the A-League’s playing venues, the PFA is disappointed to see some grounds continue to struggle to meet the standards demanded by the players.

“It was disappointing to see Sydney drop from a rating of 3.5 to a rating of 2.9 (out of 5) this season and whilst Newcastle’s Energy Australia stadium improved from 2.5 last season, it still rates as one of the league’s lowest ranked playing surfaces at 3.2,” Schwab said.

“It is important that all A-League venues provide the quality our players deserve when performing for A-League fans.”

The PFA introduced the Pitch Rating System for the 2009/2010 A-League season to promote quality playing surfaces.

The system, designed to ensure first-class football pitches and protect players’ health and safety, rates the playing surfaces of A-League venues based on 4 criteria: (1) overall; (2) hardness; (3) pace; and (4) smoothness.  At the conclusion of each match, the visiting captain rates the field based on each criterion by giving a mark out of 5.

Suncorp Stadium achieved a season average of 4.5.