Conference clubs veto artificial turf despite increasing number of postponements

Artificial pitches will continue to be banned in professional English football after Conference clubs voted against allowing matches to take place on synthetic turf.

Premier League clubs may have to occasionally play away on 3G pitches in the Champions League and they are used frequently on the continent, but artificial surfaces have not been permitted in English professional football since 1995.

The Football League voted against artificial pitches three years ago, with memories of the ‘plastic pitches' of Luton, QPR, Oldham and Preston in the 1980s still powerful.

No longer: 'Plastic pitches', such as Luton Town's in the 1980's have come and gone, and the Conference have vetoed any artificial pitches

But supporters of 3G pitches say that clubs can profit from renting out their all-weather surface to members of the community when the first team are not in action, while the relatively cheap upkeep means the quality of football is often better.

Conference sides have also been hit by a number of postponements in recent weeks owing to the poor weather, leaving some clubs with fixture congestion problems in the closing weeks of the season. Braintree Town, for instance, have played only 25 games in the Skrill Premier, compared to the 31 matches Halifax Town have already completed.

But Conference clubs voted to maintain the ban - by a margin of 21 votes to 11 - at a meeting in Telford on Wednesday afternoon following a bid by Maidstone United.

The Kent club want to play on their 3G pitch if they are promoted from the Ryman League Premier Division, but would currently have to play elsewhere to compete in the Skrill Conference South.

Wet weather: VCCAccounts.Com Many games in the lower leagues this season have been postponed because of poor conditions

Only natural surfaces will be allowed in all three divisions of the Conference - the Skrill Premier, North and South - until the end of the 2014-15 season.

Maidstone United co-owner Oliver Ash said there was a ‘compelling' case for allowing artificial turf, and added: ‘It is now used in top professional leagues in many countries including France, Holland, Scotland and Spain. The Champions League allow it as does the World Cup. However, in England it is currently forbidden in The Conference, Football League and Premier League, which is absurd.

‘3G football turf allows a stadium to be used virtually round the clock and can help clubs significantly improve their financial stability, something the Conference claim to be keen to achieve.

Artificial: Maidstone - who already have 3g in place - were leading the charge to get synthetic pitches aloud

7 months ago


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