MAIDSTONE UNITED have postponed their legal threat to the Football Conference with the FA expected to announce their backing for 3G pitches – but remain defiant their promotion dream is not dead yet.
FA chairman Greg Dyke last week chaired a 12-person committee meeting where it was unanimously decided to abandon the current position that allows grass-only surfaces in the professional English game.
It will soon be confirmed that from next season, the FA competitions rulebook will be re-written and all restrictions removed in the FA Cup, Trophy and Vase.
The change of policy is not an immediate boost to Maidstone, who have been told they cannot compete in the Ryman Premier play-offs because of the Conference’s stance on artificial surfaces.
But Stones co-owner Oliver Ash said: “As and when it’s confirmed, this is a major move. It’s proof that the FA mean business. It shows that they have embraced 3G and they have backing in some degree from the Premier League and the Football League.
“It’s significant. We’re in the realm of speculation but it suggests they aren’t going to stop there. In the discussions we have had with the Conference, they have suggested 3G isn’t backed because the authorities were not showing they wanted it. Things have now changed.”
Ash is not giving up hope on promotion despite the Ryman League notifying the Kent club that they cannot contest the Premier play-offs should they finish in the top five.
A vote by Conference member clubs in January’s EGM discovered that they weren’t in favour of plastic pitches in the competition. Maidstone responded by saying they had no other option but to challenge that outcome in court, to which league chairman Brian Lee said they wouldn’t be “blackmailed”.
Ash added: “This opens the door for an amicable solution, so for now the legal situation will be on hold. But if further down the line nothing has changed, well we go back to the drawing board.
“The Ryman League are stopping us competing in the play-offs but the FA have grasped the metal. There’s two months before the end of April, and if they want to get stuck in to resolve the issue soon then there’s still every chance.
“We’re backing off a little bit to see what happens next. If we have to wait a year then so be it, but we aren’t giving up on promotion.”