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Gillingham's Paul Scally believes Maidstone United only have themselves to blame after being denied promotion from the Ryman League

By Luke Cawdell
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally

Gills chairman Paul Scally admits he has little sympathy for Maidstone United’s 3G plight.

The Ryman League club are set to be denied the chance of promotion this season - should they achieve it - as their artificial surface contravenes Football Conference regulations.

Those rules were in place before the Stones laid their 3G surface at the Gallagher Stadium.

Representatives from the 68 clubs in the Conference leagues met recently for an extraordinary general meeting and voted against a change to those regulations, meaning the Stones - or any other club with an artificial surface - can progress no further than the Ryman League.

Mr Scally, who this week revealed the club are upgrading their own grass playing surface in the close season, said: “When they put that pitch down they knew the regulations. They knew that if you get promotion into the higher divisions it is not within the regulations to have it.

“It’s a bit like buying a house at the end of a runway and moaning about the noise of aircraft for the next 20 years.

“I can understand their concerns, because it is looking like they could get promoted, but those are the regulations at this moment in time.”

On Wednesday the Football Association will hear an appeal from Maidstone to decide on whether they can compete in this season's play-offs.

The FA recently changed their regulations to allow clubs to play in all rounds of the FA Cup, with a 3G surface.

Gallagher Stadium's 3G pitch. Picture: Martin Apps
Gallagher Stadium's 3G pitch. Picture: Martin Apps

Mr Scally is not necessarily against artificial surfaces but feels it should be all or nothing.

He said: “I don’t have an issue with them but I think there are a lot of clubs that do. It is a scenario where everyone has to do it or nobody does it.

“I don’t think you can have some grounds with 3G and some without. The regulations at the moment say you can’t have them in the Football League, or in the Conference, and those are the regulations.

“I don’t have enough experience of seeing football on artificial pitches but if the lobby movement persuaded the Football League as an organisation to change the regulations then I would look at it then.

“Right now the regulations are what they are. I wouldn’t put an artificial pitch down at Priestfield this year, knowing that in September I wouldn’t be able to play on it. That would be a bit foolish.”

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