3G Football Turf Pitches
In recent years football has seen huge innovations and investment in the development of artificial surfaces.
3G Football Turf Pitches (FTPs) now allow the game to be played on surfaces that replicate the playing qualities of good quality natural grass pitches whilst increasing the levels of use. The success of these surfaces can be seen in their use in major competitions including the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup.
3G Football Turf is a blend of grass-like fibres attached to a special backing with a mix of sand and/or rubber brushed in. We have come a long-way from the sand filled ‘plastic’ pitches once used at Oldham, QPR and Luton in the 1980s. 3G FTPs come with a longer grass blade and are in-filled with rubber granules giving characteristics that one would associate with playing on a high quality natural pitch such as ball bounce, ball roll, surface hardness and grip.
The FA allow competitive fixtures to be played on two types of 3G FTP:
FIFA Quality Pro Turf – this is the highest grade of surface and is designed to mirror Premier League and International level grass pitches. It requires an annual test certificate to ensure maintains the right quality for use. Clubs playing in Steps 1 & 2 of the National League System are required to have this level of surface. Usage of the surface should be limited to a maximum of 20 hours a week to maintain its quality.
FIFA Quality Turf – this is the most common type of 3G turf used due to its ability to accommodate far higher usage levels each week. This surface requires testing annually for clubs playing at Steps 3-6 of the football pyramid, Women’s Super League and FA Competitions. Testing is required every three years for all other levels of affiliated football.
All 3G FTP pitches with a valid test certificate can be found on The FA 3G register here.
More information on 3G FTPs, their design, use and maintenance can be found in this FA Guide
Yes, 3G FTPs are allowed to be used for matches in all affiliated county adult and youth competitions subject to the pitch meeting the FIFA Quality requirements and appearing on The FA’s 3G register.
A pitch must be tested (by an accredited test institute) every three years and the certificate or report passed to the FA. County affiliated leagues and or competitions are not allowed to refuse the use of 3G FTPs as long as they meet the required test standard.
3G artificial grass pitches are recognised as durable, safe, year-round playing surfaces, able to withstand intensive use and all kinds of weather.
They mean more people can benefit from all the associated social and health benefits of physical activity. Concerns have however been raised about the safety associated with these pitches and their constituent parts, most commonly the presence of rubber crumb. The FA take these concerns very seriously and have monitored numerous independent scientific studies on this issue, which have reported a very low/negligible level of concern for human health as a result of 3G pitches and rubber crumb. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has recently published its own findings, following an extensive EU-wide study, and has found no reason to advise people against playing sport on 3G pitches with rubber crumb.
The Sport and Play Contractors Association (SAPCA), the UK trade body for the sports pitch industry, is working to develop a voluntary industry standard that will provide restrictions that go above and beyond what is currently required for rubber crumb under European regulation. The Football Association, Sport England and leading sport governing bodies all support this approach and will continue to work with the industry to provide reassurance that pitches in this country are safe.
Any astro-turf pitch that is not on The FA 3G register i.e. without a valid test certificate, sand dressed/filled or water based is not suitable for affiliated competition.
At the moment there is no such thing as 4G or 5G, terms sometimes used by sales-people.
Some manufacturers may promote non-infilled products, but these have not received acceptance as a suitable football surface and often struggle to satisfy FIFA requirements.
As long as they meet the surface grading determined in the competition rules, 3G FTP’s are permitted in the following competitions:
• FA Cup
• FA Trophy
• FA Vase
• FA Youth Cup
• FA Women’s Super League
• FA Women’s Premier League
• FA Women’s Cup
• FA WSL Continental Cup
• FA Sunday Cup
• FA County Youth Cup