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Stones Set Out Their Position On 3G

MAIDSTONE UNITED say they are confident they will be admitted into the Conference should they achieve promotion this season.

The Stones, who are fourth in the Ryman Premier Division, would currently be ineligible for Step 2 football as they play on an artificial 3G surface.

However, they say they are determined to implement a change in the current rules and says that welcoming 3G would be a benefit to numerous clubs around the country.

A statement on the club’s website said: “We are confident that your club will not be prevented from playing on its Gallagher Stadium 3G pitch in the event we are in a promotion position come April next.

“We are more committed than ever to pressing the strong case for 3G in English football and achieving change. This applies not just to Maidstone United but to all clubs who play on 3G or who aspire to create a 3G model for their clubs in the future.

“As the football authorities are clearly not going to be pro-active in allowing 3G at higher levels, we have decided to pick up the mantle and campaign for what we believe to be right.

“We, and many of the fifty-strong 3G4US group of football clubs, believe that all clubs in England should have the right to play on 3G. The arguments for welcoming its use, based on all the many benefits it can bring, are overwhelming and there are no objective arguments against it anymore. It really is a no-brainer.

“However there will be many battles to be won along the way. Most recently the chairman of the Conference has written to inform us that our 3G pitch would not be authorised at present in the Conference and that we would need a rule change at the AGM in June to be able to play on 3G.

MU Gallagher Stadium

Maidstone’s impressive Gallagher Stadium

“In fact according to Conference rules we thought that a simple board decision would suffice but it appears the Conference chairman is unwilling to put the matter to his board. What is clear is that he does not wish to move on the question of allowing 3G in the Conference right now. We may be able to find out more about his reasoning in November when he is due to visit the Gallagher Stadium for a debate with us on these very 3G issues. We look forward to that.

“You should also be aware that we are not alone in pushing for change: Sutton United, keen supporters of 3G in the Conference South, are also preparing a request for a rule change on 3G to be submitted in January 2014 in time for a decision at the AGM in June.

“I think you know by now how seriously we all feel on 3G. Two years ago when we set off to develop a 3G stadium we were stepping into the unknown to an extent. Now we have seen the community benefits and the financial benefits first-hand and we are complete converts to 3G.

“We know from all the discussions at the club that this applies to the vast majority of our supporters too. We are therefore somewhat gob-smacked by the current attitude of the football authorities. As has been stated before we believe that figures of football authority, be they within the FA, Premier League, Football League or even the Conference, should be big enough, should be visionary enough, should display leadership enough, to seize the initiative on 3G and campaign for it.

“We are astonished that it is left to us, a seventh tier club, to campaign on this vital issue, which we believe is so important for the future of the game in England. Let us not forget that without 3G your club would probably not exist today. Other clubs would perhaps have folded. Many other clubs are now looking to 3G as a way of developing a sustainable football business model.

“Do the Conference really think it is better for clubs to have to resort to desperate funding measures such as selling your soul and your real names in humiliating sponsorship deals? Is that what the Conference leaders are telling their clubs by refusing to adopt 3G?

“There are still two alternative outcomes: firstly that the higher football authorities come round very quickly to the arguments for giving clubs freedom to choose if they want to play on 3G pitches or not: that would be inspirational; secondly, if there is only obstruction and obfuscation, we will be obliged to see it as a declaration of war, not only on Maidstone United but, as said above, on football clubs everywhere.

“In this case we will be forced to take other measures to press our case and defend our club and our principles. These may have serious implications. However please be assured, we may lose a battle or two but we will not lose the 3G war!

“Finally we continue to try and update you on all issues affecting the club as transparently as possible, as often as possible. We are doing our best so please bear with us.”

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