FA To Allow Use Of 'Third Generation' Artificial Playing Surfaces Starting Next Season
The FA has "allowed the use" of "third generation" artificial pitches in "every round of the FA Cup" from '14-15, according to the BBC. Synthetic pitches "cannot be used after the first round proper under the FA's current rules." The decision to allow 3G surfaces from next season will be "welcomed by clubs who rely on their more sustainable running costs." Artificial surfaces were "outlawed from English professional football almost 20 years ago." FA General Secretary Alex Horne said, "Clubs are increasingly seeing the benefits of using 3G surfaces across the football pyramid and clubs who play on those surfaces can now retain home advantage in the competition. These pitches 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" (BBC, 3/24). REUTERS reported the FA's decision "could be a significant game-changer," even though the EPL said that it had "no plans to look at the issue because its clubs have the resources to provide top-quality grass surfaces." There are "only around 600 good quality artificial pitches in England and the FA is looking to substantially increase that number." U.K. Sports Minister Helen Grant "welcomed the move." Grant: "I believe that allowing 3G pitches in the Conference would now be a sensible step" (REUTERS, 3/24).