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Maidstone United co-owner Oliver Ash believes there could yet be 3G in the Football League next season

Oliver Ash feels anything is possible in Maidstone’s 3G fight.

The Football League aren’t due to vote on the use of artificial pitches until their annual meeting in June.

In theory that rules out the possibility of promotion for United and fellow 3G clubs Sutton and Bromley this season, unless they switch to grass.

Oliver Ash
Oliver Ash

Stones are highly unlikely to go down that route but co-owner Mr Ash still believes there could be some movement on 3G in Leagues 1 and 2 before June.

He said: “Nothing’s impossible. We still don’t know how it’s going to pan out.

“For us or the other 3G clubs who may be successful in the play-offs there’s a number of options at the moment.

“There’s no clear way - yet - that a club on 3G could get promoted because the EFL has not yet approved it but things may change between now and June.

“Whether it’s the Football League or the National League or the FA, they know there’s an issue brewing which is going to be complicated and very awkward to deal with.”

As it stands, United would be demoted to National South should they win promotion and refuse to rip up their 3G pitch.

It’s a rule Mr Ash is fighting as it potentially makes a mockery of the league.

Mr Ash said: “I don’t think we can realistically say we don’t want to contest the play-offs but if we finish in the top seven I think there will be fairly urgent discussions with the National League and the FA to say, ‘right, now we’re in the play-offs, what are we going to do about this rule?’

“If you look at the financial implications of ripping out your 3G pitch it puts a real hole in your finances and therefore there’s a good chance you’ll be struggling against relegation the following year.

“So a quite reasonable scenario is you go up and then get relegated immediately.

Maidstone co-owners Terry Casey and Oliver Ash and chief executive Bill Williams Picture: Martin Apps
Maidstone co-owners Terry Casey and Oliver Ash and chief executive Bill Williams Picture: Martin Apps

“If you’ve torn up your pitch, your club could be in a big crisis.

“I’m not saying that would happen but it’s a real possibility and personally I think the National League rule is an issue for that reason because it has the potential to give an incentive to a team not to want to win a game.

“To have a rule that clearly gives that incentive, it has to be a poor rule, so I’m arguing on the board to change it.

“It’s one thing having to accept we don’t go up but it’s another facing a double relegation.”

It hasn’t been discussed by Maidstone at board level but Mr Ash cannot make a case for replacing their 3G pitch.

He said: “We have to do what’s right in the long-term interests.

“Personally, right now, I can’t clearly see a way of being promoted and ripping up the pitch.

“I can’t see that it would be financially viable.

“How much is it worth having the pitch in terms of income? A calculated guess is probably £500,000.

“It’s worth £500,000 of direct and indirect income to us which is a huge amount of money.”

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