What’s the difference between 3G and 4G football pitches?

We, namely the staff and volunteers at Burnham Football Club, are often asked to clarify the difference between 3rd Generation (3G) and 4th Generation (4G) pitches. Specifically the use of artificial surfaces for football here in the UK.

Our traditional grass football pitch was replaced with a new 3G artificial pitch during the summer of 2021. We took the decision to use a black rubber crumb infill rather than sand and continue to undertake regular maintenance to keep the surface in tip top condition for all who play on it.

The FA and therefore their related leagues require all 3G football pitches to have a valid FIFA certification and here’s the main register of 3G pitches for England hosted by The Football Foundation. The following statement can be found on page 5 of the The FA Third Generation Football Turf Guidance PDF document:

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.

It’s also important to note that, in our opinion, the use of the phrase ‘All-Weather’ is also another ‘sales’ term. Artificial pitches can indeed withstand a variety of weather conditions including rain and frost. However, a match may still be postponed because of heavy snow fall and using a brush or drag mat to clear snow can result in crumb displacement. If you would like to know more then speak to a supplier, for example Velocity Sports.

Useful links

The FA Third Generation Football Turf Guidance

(PDF Download)

Velocity Sports

3G Pitch at Burnham FC