Given the importance Scottish football has historically placed on sporting integrity, it remains astonishing the SPFL hasn't moved to quell the edge given to those teams allowed to ply their trade on plastic pitches. Make no mistake, Kilmarnock and Livingston - the two sides who have them installed at their home stadiums, enjoy a sporting advantage. 

It's important to stress that they have done nothing wrong and broken no rules. Both are good clubs that have looked to do what they can to help themselves survive in a challenging industry.  While Scottish football continues to allow plastic there's a convincing argument that it's smart of them to utilise whatever helps stay competitive.

For those of us looking to be entertained by watching a game at either stadium on the television though, it's often a painful afternoon's viewing. As Philippe Clement said in the build-up to yesterday's game between Livi and Rangers, football on such a surface is a very different sport. Just like in Tennis where players like Rafael Nadal excelled on clay or Pete Sampras dominated on grass, football changes enough with the slowed roll of the ball and the flattened bounce that it becomes slightly warped. Some players adapt well, others don't.

If we believe that practice matters, it's an obvious win for teams who play and train on that surface consistently. Steve Clarke used it to stunning effect when managing Killie, while most think Livingston's manager David Martindale has done a magician's work during his time in West Lothian. Few point to how the environment shaped the outcomes in such appraisals, as good as both men's business has been.

Last year, Martindale explained how the pitch saves the club between £100k and £150k every year. His men can both play and train in the stadium as well as rent the space out for others to enjoy. So the advantage is not just sporting, it extends to financial results to boot. Don't take my word for it. Former Livingston manager Kenny Miller said yesterday of the team's familiarity with the plastic: "It definitely gives them an advantage. They are used to the surface and know what it is." 

This sporting fairness argument is at the core of why these pitches need to be outlawed but that's not to say it stands as the only reason. Academic studies of the impact these surfaces have on athletes are still relatively thin on the ground but there are many in the game who swear they result in joint injuries. While the tangible evidence of harm caused by plastic remains unconvincing at this stage, it has to be noted how often players with a history of knee problems are kept out of these games as a precautionary measure.

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There's also the matter of optics, no small beer with the increasing impact of television and social media to keep the national sport relevant.  No other major league allows plastic pitches, nor would they dream of accepting a team with one. As Clement said ahead of the match: "You look at the big leagues, the top leagues, there's not one artificial pitch. There's a reason for that. For the quality of football, for the quality also for spectators to watch good football games, it needs to be on grass pitches."

The big leagues know how bad these surfaces look on TV, how the plastic sheen reflects so unsatisfyingly in the sun. They will also be aware they require regular watering to keep them slick and as fast-moving as possible - a practice often naughtily stopped for games against the biggest opponents. It's why when Rangers or Celtic head to Almondvale or Kilmarnock, they pray for rain. A sticky pitch kills spectacle but it can also act as a great leveller after all. Derek McInnes' side have shown they are no great shakes over the Premiership season so far sitting mid-table, and yet interestingly, have beaten both Celtic and Rangers at home. 

It's important to remember that the SPFL is a members organisation made up of the clubs it governs. What they demand is what occurs. Neil Doncaster's interpretation of the Chief Executive role has made it essentially a highly-paid lightning rod for criticism with no actual power so don't expect anything more than bland corporate idioms to come from him. And in the corridors of power, there seems to be little appetite to legislate for a grass-only league. It seems a remarkable state of affairs given the advantage that's readily acknowledged, but perhaps not when you delve into the politics.

Back in 21/22, Kilmarnock's relegation the previous season meant only Livingston had an artificial turf. It begged the question of why the top clubs wouldn't use the 11-1 voting system to ban the pitches altogether and move on. It turned out that any rule change, despite only affecting the Premiership, would be voted on by all 42 clubs.

A 75 per cent majority would be needed to make a change, something which there would be unlikely to be an appetite for. After all, smaller teams wouldn't want to be forced into expensive change should a miracle run to the top of the game take place. In other words - a classic case of Scottish football parochialism and self-interest. And so we are stuck with the status quo. 

Livingston sit at the bottom of the league but the Premiership is so tight at the moment they are only seven points off third place. Few would bet against it changing quickly given Martindale has shown time and again that between his aggressive style of football, smart recruitment and thorough organisation he can create a team that punches above its weight. But like Clarke before him, the plastic is undoubtedly a key part of the fight.

Simply put, this seems palpably unacceptable in a league already marred by inequalities. If sporting integrity means anything to the Scottish game, it must act. If attractiveness to a television audience means anything, it must act. The reason it won't points to the biggest problem facing Scottish football of all - the lack of individual power to act. The systems that govern our game are a perpetual gridlock that keeps it forever slow to adapt. The executives have no executive power to act. Until that changes, and someone can rise above the vested interest, football will continue to be stuck in this decision vacuum Groundhog Day.