‘Synthetic is the key to survival’ – that is the message from a group of football clubs who aim to win over the doubters.
The 3G4US group, set up last year to promote greater awareness of the benefits of 3G synthetic pitches, will continue to promote the state-of-the-art surface despite Football League chairmen voting against its introduction.
The majority of League Two clubs were in favour but moves to allow artificial pitches were rejected, even though 3G has been used in UEFA Champions League matches and FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Coordinator of the 3G4US group, Oliver Ash, is also co-owner of Maidstone United Football Club, who are about to move in to the first purpose-built 3G artificial turf stadium in the country.
He said: “The arguments for allowing 3G synthetic pitches in professional football are now well-rehearsed. They enable pitches and club facilities to be used around the clock, bringing in increased revenues and better community involvement in clubs. There is less weather disruption too, which is positive for revenue streams and the excellent playing surfaces encourage good technical football.
“We urge the football authorities to relax the rules on 3G. In particular we ask the Football League to consider allowing 3G pitches to be used at League Two level for an experimental period. After all, League Two chairmen appear to be in favour and nobody is obliging clubs to install these pitches if they don’t want to.”
More Scottish League teams are turning to synthetic surfaces. Artificial grass is also being used in many top pitches, including Wembley Stadium, which has 20 million synthetic fibres in its pitch.
Mr Ash added: “The further you go down the football pyramid the more the question of installation of 3G pitches can actually mean clubs staying in business and continuing to serve the local community. Synthetic turf is the key to survival. However, some clubs will be reluctant to make the change if they fear the door is closed to promotion up to Football League level. A positive decision by the Football League in this respect would have a huge ripple effect on football at grass-roots level.”