Uefa says it will allow European matches to be played on artificial pitches from the start of next season.

European football’s governing body has accepted, after years of lobbying and a two-year study to monitor the differences, that the latest synthetic pitches are a good enough alternative.

European Championship qualifiers will also be allowed on artificial pitches, but Uefa will continue to insist that the finals are staged on grass.

Uefa explained that the move “follows comprehensive studies into the sporting and medical aspects of using artificial playing surfaces.”

Uefa spokesman Rob Faulkner said: “People in England have bad memories of the artificial pitches of Luton and QPR in the 1980s, but the latest generation are completely different and are much more like grass.

“We have sanctioned its use from the start of next season but only as long as it is the latest generation of artificial turf and meets a whole series of standards.”

Clubs in Scandinavia, Russia and eastern Europe – especially those who play only Champions League or Uefa Cup games in winter – are expected to install them for the 2005-06 season.