The debacle around the Poland versus England fixture, postponed because of a waterlogged pitch and causing a travel nightmare for hundreds of fans, has once again highlighted the value of 3G synthetic turf pitches. Such a surface would have drained quickly, allowing the game to be played as scheduled despite the heavy rain.
Already international matches can be played on synthetic turf and under a roof. However at senior level in England, these pitches are only allowed currently up to Conference level and in qualifying rounds of the FA Cup.
The 3G4US group of British football clubs in favour of expanding knowledge and use of 3G pitches is adamant that 3G pitches should be allowed at higher levels of senior football and in the FA Cup.
Oliver Ash, spokesman for 3G4US and co-owner of Ryman League club Maidstone United, said: “These pitches can be the lifeblood of football clubs below the very top levels of the game. The pitches are resistant to bad weather, play beautifully and can be used round the clock, enabling clubs to earn much needed revenues from hiring them out. There’s no doubt that the postponed Poland game would have been playable on such a pitch.”
Maidstone United have just started playing on a new 3G pitch, installed in July, in their new £2.8million Gallagher Stadium. The experience has been very positive.
Ash comments: “We have played a dozen senior matches on the pitch and everyone is positive about it, even the teams we beat! It has the playing qualities of the turf at Wembley and we can use it for our community teams. It enables the club to be a close-knit family and to exist financially.”
The only problem is that some clubs may be put off installing what could be a life-saver financially because of the current blockage to promotion up to Conference level and above, and the ban in the FA Cup.
Ash adds: “We know that a few clubs like Maidstone are planning new stadia projects around 3G and also that one or two League 2 clubs are already looking into the feasibility of installing 3G. We urge the FA, Football League and Conference to take the lead in authorising these pitches up to League 2 level. With all the positive evidence available today of how well 3G pitches play, and how much good they can do to the health of football clubs, There is simply no good reason not to retain this archaic rule.”