The outstanding playing surface at AAMI Park and the atmosphere created by the Melbourne Victory fans honoured as they top Professional Footballers Australia’s (PFA) A-League Stadium Ratings for the 2014/15 season.
Voted on by the opposing teams captains at the conclusion of every A-League match the stadium ratings measure smoothness, pace, hardness of the playing surface and the overall atmosphere generated in the stadium, with captains giving a rating of between one and five (one being poor / unacceptable and five being excellent).
Recording an average overall rating of 4.3, AAMI Park edged out Perth Glory’s home ground NIB Stadium and Ethiad Stadium to be crowned as the A-League’s best pitch for the third time in four seasons.
With the overall rating across the competition up on last season’s average of 3.58 to 3.72 six of the competitions 10 venues improved on their previous campaigns ratings, with Allianz Stadium showing the biggest improvement. Whilst Allianz Arena showed significant improvement Hunter Stadium was again voted by the players as the worst surface in the competition for the second straight season.
Voted by the players as creating the competition’s best atmosphere the Melbourne Victory supporters topped the ratings for the third time in four seasons. The A-League Champion’s supporters finished the season with a rating of 4.6 for their home matches at AAMI Park and Ethiad Stadium finishing ahead of the Western Sydney Wanderers fans.
PFA Chief Executive Adam Vivian said both AAMI Park ground staff and the Victory fans were extremely worthy recipients of the players’ recognition.
“The staff at AAMI Park provide a world class playing surface week-in-week-out, season after season, and this should be celebrated by all,” said Vivian. “This goes a long way to ensuring not only the safety of the players but that the football on display is of the highest possible standard.
“It’s extremely pleasing to see the overall standard of the pitches across the league rising, however there remains some worrying trends with Hunter Stadium and Suncorp Stadium consistently providing a substandard playing surface during the course of the season. If we are to ensure the continued improvement in playing standard it is vital that this is addressed ahead of next season’s kick-off.
“I would also like to acknowledge the truly electric atmosphere created by the Melbourne Victory supporters, who continue to create an atmosphere that is the envy of all other codes. As the A-League final showed the competition owns atmosphere and there is no greater example of this than the Victory fans.
Former Melbourne Victory Captain and PFA Executive Committee Member Mark Milligan echoed Vivian’s comments.
“To be able to call a world class stadium like AAMI Park home was truly a pleasure,” said the Socceroo. “To know that every week you are going to have a surface, and an atmosphere, that allows you to perform at your absolute best is a huge benefit. The effect this has on the players can’t be understated and it has the ability to turn an average game into one that is unmissable.”
AAMI Park General Manager Shane Mates welcomed the news that the stadium was voted as the competition’s best playing surface.
“AAMI Park is the home of football in Melbourne,” said Mates. “It’s a purpose-built rectangular stadium designed specifically with football in mind.
“Our pitch is the prized asset of the stadium, with the best people working to ensure it’s in a pristine condition week-in-week-out. We are delighted that our commitment to excellence has once again been recognised by the players, and we are very happy to be named the best A-League pitch.”