FA want an end to pitch battle

28 March 2014 12:31

The Football Association is urging Football League clubs to reconsider their ban on artificial pitches, it can be revealed.

FA general secretary Alex Horne says both the Football League and the Conference should look again at their policy on 3G and other good quality artificial surfaces.

The issue is expected to be discussed at the league's summer meeting in Portugal on June 5 and 6, and comes after the FA announced it will allow artificial pitches in all rounds of the FA Cup from next season.

Horne told Press Association Sport: "I would urge the Football League and the Conference to look at this issue again.

"Clubs are becoming increasingly attracted to 3G pitches and we have now said they can be used in all rounds of the FA Cup which removes one of the obstacles to professional clubs having them.

"I understand this will be looked at again at the Football League's annual meeting in Portugal."

The Football League clubs voted against artificial pitches in 2012 despite there being a majority in League Two in favour. The FA's decision on the FA Cup may change attitudes however.

FIFA and UEFA already allow artificial pitches all the way up to international competitions - indeed England played Russia on a 3G surface in Moscow in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

There are around 600 good quality artificial pitches in England at the moment, but the FA's policy on facilities is to encourage local clubs to install 3G or later generation surfaces rather than grass.

Artificial pitches can be used for more than 50 hours per week - hugely boosting community use, while grass is limited to five or six hours and is often a victim of the weather.

There is also a growing belief in the coaching community that artificial pitches provide a better surface for young players to develop technical skills.

Sports minister Helen Grant is also pushing for a change of policy despite the Conference having rejected a bid to change the regulations as recently as January.

Grant has already held talks with the FA and the Football Conference on the issue - Maidstone United, who had unsuccessfully sought the rule change, are in her constituency.

The Premier League has said it had no plans to look at the issue because its clubs have the resources to provide top-quality grass surfaces.

Source: PA