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Ebbsfleet United vice-chairman Peter Varney responds to Jay Saunders' comments on 3G pitches

By Steve Tervet

Peter Varney has responded to Jay Saunders in the latest row over 3G pitches.

Mr Varney, the Fleet vice-chairman, recently criticised the artificial surface at Sutton United, claiming the ball bounced higher, encouraging a more direct style of play.

Maidstone also play on 3G, as do Bromley, and Stones boss Saunders dismissed that view as "silly comments" in an interview this week.

Peter Varney Picture: Andy Payton
Peter Varney Picture: Andy Payton

Mr Varney said: "My comments were in a programme article which I doubt Jay has even read before making his attack on Ebbsfleet and myself.

"It is a case of the same old story. Those who have artificial pitches are not prepared to debate the issue, they just throw insults at anyone with an opposing view. ‘Ebbsfleet’s owners are rich... they’re talking rubbish… my owners are wonderful.’ We have heard it all before.

"You won’t hear them talking about the differences which exist in the quality of the surface and in our match with Sutton United which I was referring to in my notes.

"The bounce of the ball was extremely high and made for a direct game because you have to adapt your game to deal with the pitch you are playing on. Don’t take my word for it - ask any player who played in the match. Even the directors of Sutton acknowledged that on the day.

"No insults against those with opposing views to Jay will change the reality of where we are with the disparity in the quality of the surfaces and if 3G pitches are to be allowed there needs to be a minimum approved specification with no shortcuts to save costs.

"Clubs in the National League who have artificial pitches have given a written undertaking to rip them up if they are promoted.

"It wasn’t Ebbsfleet who signed those undertakings, nor are Ebbsfleet blocking any move to 3G pitches.

"It is the Football League doing that and if any club aspires to be a Football League club the truth is at present the Football League needs to be persuaded on artificial pitches and I would respectfully suggest debating the issue would be a better approach than insulting those with a differing view.

"I remain to be convinced we have adequately researched the effect of artificial pitches on players' knee and ankle joints in the longer term also."

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