Westley pleased to see 3G pitch proposal knocked back

Graham Westley

Graham Westley - Credit: Archant

Stevenage will have to put the controversies surrounding artificial pitches behind them if they are to qualify for the second round of the FA Cup.

Last week the chairmen of all 72 Football League clubs knocked back a motion to allow 3G pitches in the Championship, League One and League Two as of the 2015-16 season.

The vote was split with 34 voting for, 34 against and four abstaining. Stevenage was one of the 34 clubs that voted against the proposed move.

The controversial surface is available for non-league clubs, however, and Maidstone United, Boro’s FA Cup first round replay opponents, have a 3G pitch at its Gallagher Stadium, which was built ahead of the 2012-13 season.

Stevenage manager Graham Westley is against the proposed plans having undergone surgery for an injured groin after its introduction at Queens Park Rangers in 1981.

“I played at QPR as a young man on the Astroturf and 11 of us in the first season ended up needing operations off the back of playing on that hard surface,” he said after Boro’s 0-0 draw with Maidstone at the Lamex Stadium on Saturday.

“The Professional Footballers’ Association is against it, I am too. As a surface it doesn’t work. When you’re playing on it players’ safety is in jeopardy. It’s unforgiving and puts the body and joints through a lot of grief.

Most Read

“The PFA speaking against it tells you everything you need to know.”

Maidstone will seemingly have a huge home advantage – they have only lost at the Gallagher Stadium seven times in all competitions since its erection – but Stevenage have their own 3G surface, at their Shepalbury Sports Academy base, so Westley insists there is no excuse not to perform in the replay.

“We play on it all the time. We’re familiar with the surface so it’s not going to be an issue,” he said.

“I think the biggest advantage is that they’re a massive football club and can afford the best players and have put together a decent outfit of winning players.

“We’ve got more to offer as a Football League side and it’s up to us to show what we’re all about in the replay.”

The replay is scheduled for Tuesday, November 18, subject to television requirements.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter