Thursday, 12 July 2012

News: Artificial pitches allowed in FA Cup qualifying

3G FOR ME: Richard Evans
Football clubs with artificial pitches will be allowed to play home matches in the qualifying rounds of the FA Cup after the FA changed their rules in time for the 2012-13 season.

All FA Cup games previously had to be played on grass, with entrants who play on synthetic surfaces such as 3G pitches forced to find alternative provision for home games.

The Football Association wrote to clubs with artificial surfaces today informing them that:

"The Challenge Cup Committee have now decided to allow the use of artificial pitches in the Qualifying Competition but not in the Competition Proper and provided that any artificial pitch is on The FA Register of Artificial Pitches."

Amongst the beneficiaries of the new rules are Maidstone United of the Ryman League, who have just moved into their impressive new Gallagher's Stadium, and Evostik Northern Premier League club Sutton Coldfield Town and their tenants Romulus

However, once a club reaches the competition proper, the stage at which League One and Two clubs enter, 3G surfaces will be banned again, with any qualifiers having to find alternative provision. 

Romulus manager Richard Evans told theonionsack this afternoon that he thinks the decision is the first step towards more 3G pitches being rolled out at higher levels.

"We'll be pleased to be able to play at home and I think it's going to end up in the professional game soon.

"3G pitches are as good as grass and they should be allowed at all levels - if they are good enough for Russia to use in World Cup qualifiers then they should be good enough here."

The move brings the Cup in line with the FA Trophy, a knock-out competition for non league clubs at the top four levels of the football pyramid - synthetic surfaces are allowed in the Trophy until the First Round Proper, when Conference National teams enter.

As things stand, the Football Conference do not allow clubs with non grass pitches to be promoted into its league competition, but this could change with the Football League discussing merits of synthetic surfaces last season. Feeder leagues below the Conference allow them subject to the FA being satisfied with their quality. 

Asked if the move would make a difference for sides used to playing on 3G surfaces, Evans added: "No, not at all. It will be the same as playing on grass last season - it will be a bonus for any team who can play good football on a good surface."

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