3G pitches given green light

The Football Association has confirmed artificial pitches will be allowed in every round of the FA Cup from next season.

Last Updated: 24/03/14 at 15:54 Post Comment

Artificial pitches can be used throughout next season's FA Cup

Artificial pitches can be used throughout next season's FA Cup

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Under current rules, 3G (third generation) surfaces are banned from the first round of the competition and in professional league from the Conference upwards.

FA general secretary Alex Horne said the rule change had been recommended by the board and wider use of synthetic surfaces would have benefits for the "grassroots football community".

Horne said: "They are a very useful asset and capable of delivering 50 plus hours per week as compared to a natural turf pitch which can deliver perhaps five hours per week.

"The value of 3G pitches has been clearly demonstrated during the recent wet weather where leagues within the grassroots game have migrated to them to address fixture backlogs."

Sports minister Helen Grant has welcomed the announcement and has called on the Football Conference to allow 3G pitches to be used in its competition.

"I believe that allowing 3G pitches in the Football Conference would now be a sensible step," she said. "Of course it is for the Football Conference in conjunction with the FA to make any decision on the use of 3G pitches.

"I will continue to press the case for a change of the rules and will be

holding formal discussions with football authorities over the coming weeks."

The FA said there were around 600 quality artificial grass pitches in England used for training and development and they were looking at plans to get more delivered in the long-term.

Artificial surfaces were banned in English professional football in 1995 after Queens Park Rangers, Luton Town, Oldham Athletic and Preston North End had used them throughout the 1980s.

Last week Sky Sports News' grassroots survey was released, which concluded that more than 65% of the 2,500 respondents said they did not think local councils did enough to support facilities and the costs of low-level football, while 83.7% said the FA do not do enough to preserve the grassroots game.

However, by linking new 3G pitches with local professional football clubs this would enable their outreach work to take place more efficiently and allow home-grown young talent to be identified.

Other advantages include the benefit of floodlights in winter months and extended playing time as an artificial pitch can be played on for around 80-90 hours a week compared to the five hours of play you would get on a grass pitch.

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