More and more Non-league clubs are turning to 3G pitches to ensure games go ahead and money comes in. But are they actually any good?

I used to live opposite Whyteleafe FC. For those of you who don’t know the area, the tiny little village sits in the bosom of a deep valley, with Warlingham sat high on a ridge to the east and Caterham equally as high, to the west.

During the winter months, the club used to be victim of the cold and wet weather, with game after game being called off. Rainwater would simply run off of the hills and down onto the pitch, causing havoc.

The club have since invested in a 3G pitch, allowing games to be played in all sorts of conditions. Not only that, the pitch can be hired out to members of the public, without the fear of the playing surface being damaged. Obviously, the revenue brought into the club by this way can’t be overlooked.

I recently travelled to cover Ashford United v Dunston UTS in the FA Vase. Dustin are a team in Newcastle who traveled the length of the country to play the Kent based team. The morning of the game was a dreary one, rain and howling winds combining. I thought by the time I arrive at the stadium, it would have been called off.

However, Ashford had the foresight of investing in a 3G pitch, which enabled the 636 supporters to see an entertaining game of football. It also ensured that 636 people paid their money to come and see the match.

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But what about the negatives of such a pitch? A simple google search states that a 3G pitch can cost around £550,000. That figure would put some professional clubs off! Such an outlay is just not possible and so many pitches are bought on “finance” agreements – think of how you would buy a car! More worryingly, recent newspaper reports revealed that playing on these pitches could be linked with Cancer.

Lewis Maguire, 18 has Hodgkin Lymphoma after playing on 3G pitches. Looking at these articles, it would seem that 3G pitches contain amounts of rubber – some of which can apparently be from car tyres, which contain chemicals. (Full article can be read here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/35585392 )

Research is continuing into this case, which has been acknowledged by the FA.

Injuries can also play a major factor. It is easy to catch a stud in the ground, which can in turn twist and tear ligaments and muscles.

For the time being, 3G pitches are becoming more and more popular as they are allow clubs to keep the money coming in – which whether you like it or not, is an important part of football. But with the attention garnered by high profile cases such as Lewis Maguire, a review and study will have to be conducted to see if they are actually safe.

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