SCEFL tells member clubs that "3G pitch at Homelands Stadium has failed a recent test and has not been re-registered on the FA Register of Football Turf Pitches"
The Southern Counties East Football League has contacted all of their member clubs today to warn them that Homelands Stadium may not be fit to stage football matches owing to health and safety issues with the artificial playing surface.
Yesterday’s Kent Youth League fixture between Tonbridge Angels and Margate was pulled from the fixture list and Ryman Youth League fixtures have also been cancelled at the venue based in Kingsnorth.
Concerned clubs have contacted the Southern Counties East Football League after news got out that the artificial playing surface failed its certification that is required for a 3G playing surface.
One concerned club spokesman claimed: “It looks like the Kent League sent us down to Ashford knowing that my players were playing without any insurances on their health and safety.”
The Southern Counties East Football League (SCEFL) told their member clubs today that Ashford United and Canterbury City – who both hire the ground from the stadium owners – may need to find alternative grounds to complete their home campaigns.
The SCEFL said in an email: “Many of you will be aware of the situation at Homelands Stadium, home venue for both Ashford United and Canterbury City, where the 3G pitch has failed a recent test and has not been re-registered on the FA Register of Football Turf Pitches.
“The FA will allow dispensation to be applied for by the stadium owners and the League is trying to chase this up with them (the owners) so that fixtures can continue at the venue.
“There will be a need to meet with both affected clubs to try to resolve this situation but until we can get a response from the stadium owners there is little that can be done.
“At present fixtures at Homelands have not been suspended as the pitch is not in a ‘dangerous’ state. Certainly the surface is less ‘dangerous’ than many of the grass pitches, however, we are contacting the FA to find out if matches can continue to be played as the alternative is very worrying for all concerned.
“Please continue with the fixture programme until you hear from us.”
Hours later, the League sent another email that read: “It is a possible outcome of the Homelands situation that both Ashford United and Canterbury City will be without a home venue for their remaining games.
“So that both clubs can be aware of their possible alternatives could all other clubs please look into the possibility of staging some or all of these home fixtures for the potentially displaced clubs at their grounds on a temporary ground-share basis and let (the League) know.”
Meanwhile, The Football Association have issued guidelines for artificial pitches.
What happens if my 3G pitch fails the test?
“You should seek urgent professional advice on how to improve the condition of the carpet and The FA can provide advice as to how best to do this and who to approach.
“A common reason for failing is due to inadequate maintenance, the volume of use and type of footwear used. This could be rectified in a reasonably cost effective way.
“If, following professional advice the carpet is considered past its usable life, then a re-surface may be required. In this circumstance the pitch should not be used for match play until it passes the performance test and appears on the FA register.”
What if we play on a pitch that is not on the register?
“If you play a match on a pitch that has not been tested and approved you run the risk of the League or competition imposing sanctions which could be a points deduction, a fine or both.
“3G pitches do degrade with age and use. It is vital that pitch operators implement an annual maintenance schedule and have their facility tested in line with the level of competition played on it. Failure to regularly maintain and periodically test may invalidate a field operator’s public liability insurance, as they may not be able to demonstrate that the pitch is still fit for purpose.
“The pitch should be tested either annually for steps 1 to 6 of the National League System (usually required between January and March each year) or every three years for step 7 and below.
“The pitch should meet the required performance criteria and be registered on The FA Register for 3G Football Turf pitches.”
For details of who can carry out the performance test, please email FacilitiesInfo@TheFA.com.