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Football Conference Clubs Vote Against 3G Pitches

Thu 30th Jan 2014 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

Football Conference clubs have voted against the use of artificial pitches at an EGM yesterday.

The proposed rule change to allow clubs to install state of the art 3G artificial pitches was dismissed as clubs voted 21 to 11 against the idea.

This means for 2014/15 season only natural grass turf surfaces will be permitted in all three divisions of the Skrill Conference.

The recent bad weather has seen a number of matches called off with 22 Conference matches submitting to the weather on New Year’s Day.

One of the club’s leading calls change the rule is Maidstone United who vowed to continue their campaign to allow the use of artificial pitches in the Football Conference. Currently sitting in second place in the Ryman Premier Division, Maidstone's Gallagher Stadium uses a 3G pitch which, if they are promoted, will have to be replaced with real turf.

Club co-owner Oliver Ash and first team manager Jay Saunders met with the Football Conference Board of Directors to make the case for 3G ahead of the vote.

Following the decision Oliver Ash said, "We actually view the last few days of constructive and open discussions with The Conference Board and the vote by Conference Clubs as highly positive. The vote showed that significant numbers of clubs are in favour of allowing 3G in The Conference.

“This is because they recognise the many benefits 3G can bring, including perfect playing surfaces like the best grass pitches, safe playing conditions similar to those on good grass pitches and favouring attractive passing football.

"Matches can be played in virtually any weather while other stadia are waterlogged or frozen for weeks at a time. 3G allows local communities to bond with their clubs by using the pitch and facilities, there is significant revenue raising potential from pitch hire and knock-on effect income, and far lower maintenance costs.

“Additionally, 3G is already played on in senior professional leagues in most countries in Europe including France, Italy and Holland. FIFA UEFA and The FA endorse 3G as good for football. Scotland alone has 11 clubs playing on 3G in the Scottish League.

We will continue a dialogue with the Conference and press for the acceptance of 3G, which we are confident will come sooner rather than later.

“The vote was never going to show the real views of all Conference clubs about 3G because the voting rules gave 24 Premier clubs one vote each, while North and South (44 clubs) got just eight between them. Additionally, the compelling facts and figures on 3G were not disclosed to the clubs by the Conference Board prior to the vote.

“It’s business as usual for our club. We will continue to campaign for 3G to be allowed higher up the pyramid, while the first team will push for promotion from the Ryman Premier Division. If we were in a promotion position come the end of the season we are very confident we would be allowed to go up on 3G.”

Ash leads the campaign group, 3G4US, a group of football clubs who are supportive of synthetic pitches. £G4US are hosting a workshop on 3G Football Turf for football club directors and managers at Step 4 (Calor, Evo-Stik and Ryman) clubs and above. The event takes place at the Gallagher Stadium on Wednesday 26 February. To register, visit www.3g4us.org

Image: Action Images / Carl Recine Livepic

Posted by: Aaron Gourley

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