PADIHAM secretary Alan Smith says he would not be in favour of 3G pitches, because they take away the essence of football.
The Football Association board voted unanimously to embrace the idea of artificial surfaces at a meeting last week, it has emerged, with the aim of changing the FA Cup rulebook to allow non-grass pitches into the competition up to and including the semi-final stage – possibly as early as next season.
There have been calls for more non-league clubs to revert to 3G pitches to avoid postponements and a fixture backlog, and also open up the facility to the community as a means of making finance.
The case for artificial pitches has made the headlines with promotion chasing Maidstone United told they will not be allowed to participate in the Ryman League Premier play-offs, despite sitting second, because 3G pitches are not permitted in the Skrill Premier, North or South.
But while Storks’ stalwart Smith feels there are merits for some teams switching to non-grass surfaces, he feels the negatives outweigh the positives in the wider football world.
“You can’t deny the fact that it will allow more football to be played – be it competitive or non-competitive – and it is an advantage if you want to train on it. We train on it. But football on 3G pitches is a different game,” he said.
“In football, on grass, there’s an odd bobble; if it’s wet, the ball sticks – that’s what makes it unpredictable and enjoyable.
“On 3G it would be like watching five-a-side being played at 11-a-side. You are creating a new sport.”
Instead, Smith feels that, in the event of winter postponements, there is a better solution to avoiding a fixture pile-up.
“There are too many teams playing in each league.
“When the Northern Premier League have to play 46 league games, and in four cup competition, there is no way they are going to get those games played on grass pitches during the normal season,” he said.
“If you reduce the number of league games to 38 you have a far better chance of getting games played, and still stay with a grass sport.
“It’s just my personal opinion, but I wouldn’t want to be watching football on 3G pitches week in, week out, because to me it’s not football.
“It’s ideal for training on and for the younger age groups. Our ladies’ team would also benefit, but their league does not permit it.
“I can also see the advantages of a team like Bacup, who suffer a lot of postponements because their ground is located in such an area – it might help them to fulfil fixtures.
“But generally I think it’s a horrible game to watch on an artificial surface.”
Smith also has concerns about the cost implications of installing and maintaining such surfaces.
He feels any money would be better spent on getting the best out of existing surfaces.
“You can start to put money into drainage,” he said.
“We work on our pitch and have lots of people that put a lot of hours’ work into getting it ready for every game.
“We’ve had two postponements at home – Ramsbottom United on New Year’s Day and Radcliffe Borough in January. We’ve had away games postponed, but it has been an exceptionally wet winter.
“It would not want to switch to 3G.”