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Home   Maidstone   Sport   Article

Maidstone United co-owner Oliver Ash keen to avoid 'costly conflict' ahead of 3G presentation to Conference board

28 January 2014
by Craig Tucker

Gallagher Stadium's 3G pitch. Picture Martin Apps

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

Oliver Ash wants to avoid involving lawyers in Maidstone's 3G pitch battle.

Stones co-owner Mr Ash believes it could be illegal for the Conference to block 3G pitches under English competition law.

He is due to make a presentation to the Conference board in Telford on Tuesday afternoon, then clubs will vote on proposals on Wednesday.

United are second in the Ryman League Premier Division but would be denied promotion under existing rules due to the Gallagher Stadium's artificial pitch.

Mr Ash wants the situation resolved amicably for the sake of all clubs - not just his own.

He said: “Hopefully, a solution can be reached that will avoid having to take them to an FA tribunal.

“I must underline we are doing this for clubs as a whole.

"It’s possible Maidstone won’t be promoted but we still want to champion the cause on behalf of football and those who have shown great support for 3G.

“I still hope the Conference will pick up the mantle and we can avoid costly conflict.

“It’s a no-brainer in so many ways.

“We did 3G as a shot in the dark. We knew we had to because there was no alternative to make the Gallagher Stadium work.

“Fans were divided and a lot said they didn’t want this ‘awful’ plastic. There are still some who are against it but over two years, opinions change.

“Some people think football should be played on grass but that’s their main argument against 3G. I’ve yet to hear a constructive case against it.”

Maidstone celebrate Jack Parkinson's goal during a 7-2 win over Hampton & Richmond at the Gallagher on Saturday. Picture Martin Apps

Maidstone celebrate Jack Parkinson's goal during a 7-2 win over Hampton & Richmond at the Gallagher on Saturday. Picture: Martin Apps

Mr Ash says Conference bosses have been reluctant to embrace 3G for fear it will damage their relationship with the Football League.

But he insists that’s no reason to close the door on a surface that’s used in World Cup qualifiers, Champions League, Europa League and top leagues around the world, including Russia and France.

Should 3G pitches be allowed in the Conference?

Mr Ash said: “The big argument from the Conference is the impact on clubs looking for promotion to League 2 who couldn’t go up with a 3G pitch.

“We would argue that’s a separate issue.

“If the Conference want to show vision and leadership, they should argue the case with the league so in due course it’s accepted.

"Don’t forget the last time anyone asked, the majority of League 2 chairmen were in favour.

“The Conference argument that allowing 3G might upset the league is off the planet as far as we’re concerned. They should be leading, not cowering in the corner."

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