LET'S start this article with a disclaimer, shall we?

Celtic did not lose to Livingston on Sunday because they played on a plastic pitch. That needs to be made abundantly clear straight off the bat.

Ange Postecoglou's side put in their worst performance of the season and rightfully succumbed to a 1-0 Scottish Premiership defeat owing to Andrew Shinnie's solitary goal at the Tony Macaroni Arena. That much is true.

Celtic didn't win the game because they were in actual fact rank rotten on the day. That's another given. That being said the synthetic surface did play a huge part in the final result.

READ MORE: Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou's problem isn't lack of Plan B but lack of depth to re-energise Plan A

Celtic Way:

Livingston boss David Martindale in the wake of his side's shock triumph extolled the virtues of the astroturf.

Martindale said: “It was a totally different team coming here this time, Ange is just in the job, there is a lot of new players and I knew that there is an element that the park plays in that.

"A lot of the foreign boys are top internationalists coming into this country and they have not played on similar surfaces, so it will play a part in the mindset and that is why in the lead up to the game I made a point about the park.

"It was tongue in cheek, but I was hoping Celtic were reading it."

Celtic must have read it all right and somehow bought it too - hook, line and sinker. You only need to check the statistics to see Celtic sport the most dreadful record when it comes to winning away at Livingston. They last won in West Lothian when they triumphed 4-1 in a Scottish Cup tie back in 2007.

In the intervening 14 years, Celtic have travelled the short distance along the M8 on no fewer than five occasions and registered no wins, three draws and two losses. Celtic just don't like playing at the Tony Macaroni. It's clear.

There are many things that divide Glasgow's big two. Get them on the subject of plastic pitches, however, it is an entirely different matter. As far back as 2018, Rangers boss Steven Gerrard even called for a ban on them after losing the services of winger Jamie Murphy to a serious knee injury suffered at Kilmarnock's Rugby Park.

For the record, Gerrard said this at the time: "We all know that plastic pitches are not as safe as grass - that’s a fact, that’s simple. "I’m not here to disrespect Kilmarnock and their playing facilities.

"I know that it’s a big help to Kilmarnock having a plastic pitch, it helps support the running of their football club. So I’m not going to show them any kind of disrespect but my opinion is elite football shouldn’t have any plastic pitches.

"We’re dealing with elite footballers, who earn an awful lot of money, and I think for every club worldwide it’s safer to have a grass pitch. Other people might have a different opinion to that but I think if you ask any manager worldwide, they’d all prefer grass and I do."

On this issue and in this instance, I actually happen to agree wholeheartedly with Gerrard and I sympathise with him and others in the Scottish Premiership who loathe playing on plastic. There should be no place for synthetic, artificial, plastic pitches in any top-flight league in Europe.

There is no denying that Celtic's slick, passing game under Ange Postecoglou, (I refuse to call it 'Angeball' anymore) was totally disrupted against a Livingston side who were well-drilled, efficient and adept at playing on their home ground.

Celtic's new summer signings Liel Abada and Jota simply could simply not get to grips on a sticky surface that wasn't watered and spewed up pellets at will.

There is no escaping that the surface was a factor in the final outcome.

READ MORE: Celtic's passing game fails to penetrate and Boli Bolingoli ends his exile - tactical and data match report against Livingston

Whilst it may well constitute some sort of sporting advantage others will gladly point out that both Aberdeen and Motherwell had managed to win at the Tony Macaroni this season already before Celtic rolled into town.

When Steve Clarke was manager of Kilmarnock, it was Rangers who came a cropper more often than not in Ayrshire. Gerrard faced Clarke's men four times at Rugby Park in season 2018/19 and won just once, losing twice and drawing the other encounter.

The Scotland boss guided his side to a third-place finish that campaign and European football qualification. We can all remember Clarke's cutting jibe to Rangers supporters on the final day of the 2018/19 season when Killie had triumphed 2-1 to secure the third spot and he waved to the empty Chadwick Stand and said: 'Bye, bye Rangers'.

The success was put down to Killie being conferred a similar sporting advantage - currently being enjoyed by Livingston - by being able to play and train on the Rugby Park surface every day and work on developing a way to combat the threat posed by every visiting side in the division. The Ayrshire team have since been relegated.

There are many opponents of artificial surfaces and their arguments can be neatly summed up. Plastic pitches give an unfair advantage to teams who use them to play home matches and who train on them on a daily basis.

Sceptics also say that there is an unnatural run and an unfavourable bounce of the ball compared to grass surfaces and that supporters are being served up a bastardised version of the beautiful game. A kind of: 'It's football Jim but not as we know it'.

Then there is the long-standing debate that players are more susceptible and prone to injury due to plying their trade on plastic. 

Meanwhile, supporters of plastic pitches claim that there is no definitive proof or scientific evidence to suggest that injuries occur more on synthetic surfaces in order to back up these claims.

In fact, experts argue that some plastic pitches are better than poorer grass surfaces which some clubs are forced to play on all season.

The biggest pro-argument of all for artificial pitches is that it helps community clubs like Livingston, Kilmarnock and Hamilton among others and it saves them a fortune in pitch maintenance whilst also being an invaluable revenue stream that can be used by first teams as well as being hired out to entire communities. When it comes to offering financial lifelines to community clubs that particular theory is hard to manoeuvre around.

Do plastic pitches offer sides like Livingston/Kilmarnock/Hamilton a distinct advantage when it comes to the domestic competition? Just ask Celtic and Rangers.

READ MORE: Do Celtic now have a long-term complex about facing Livingston away from home? - points from the presser

The big two in the Scottish game may not like playing on plastic pitches but they are here to stay in the interim. The lobby for the removal of synthetic pitches at elite level is growing after the relegation of Hamilton Academical and Kilmarnock respectively last season.

Any vote would require an 11-1 victory which is achievable when you consider that Livingston is now the sole owner of a plastic pitch in top-flight Scottish football.

Maybe there should be some sort of artificial surface amnesty with clubs given a grant by their respective governing body to revert back to grass and also given a window in which to carry out the necessary pitch repair work.

It is high time that the ruling bodies like the SFA, UEFA and FIFA had another look at what kind of pitches are deemed acceptable in respective member countries' top-flight leagues.

If they did then they would only need to ask the top-flight managers and the players for their opinions. As Gerrard himself said three years ago: "Elite football shouldn't have any plastic pitches...I think if you ask any manager worldwide, they’d all prefer grass and I do."

As a fervent and passionate Scottish football writer as well as a spectator - I do too.

And it's not simply because Celtic lost to Livingston on Sunday and haven't won in West Lothian for 14 years.

Honestly...it's not.