It’s a sad day when I know in my heart of hearts that I could be putting this great club at risk by winning promotion, says Sutton United boss Paul Doswell

Monday 05th February 2018

SUTTON UNITED manager Paul Doswell says it will break his heart if his club are forced to rip up their artificial pitch should they win promotion from the Vanarama National League at the end of the season.

The U’s, who welcomed Premier League giants Arsenal in The FA Cup Fifth Round 12 months ago, are currently sitting in fifth-place in the Vanarama National League table with 52 points from 30 games, just four points behind leaders Wrexham.

Sutton United were knocked out of The Buildbase FA Trophy in the last 16 by third-placed Vanarama National League North side Brackley Town yesterday, going down to a 3-1 defeat on a poor grass pitch.

“Really struggling at the moment to make sense of Sutton’s situation,” Doswell posted on his Twitter account.

“I’ve always loved non-league football and very proud that we are playing at the highest level through sheer hard work and prudence, never spending more than we have and building a community club which welcomes all.

“If we gain promotion it will cost half-a-million pounds to replace the pitch and deny hundreds of children the chance to play football.  Every chance as well that we would suffer huge financial pressures as all the basic award £472,000 would go on replacing pitch.

“For those championing grass as a surface we played on a mud cow field (at Brackley) yesterday and didn’t play the week before (at Barrow) either.  National League and League Two pitches were shocking in the main this weekend as well.  From a sporting perspective we will always try to win every game.

“It’s a sad day when I know in my heart of hearts that I could be putting this great club at risk by winning promotion.  I understand the rules etc, etc but we could be in a position of spending half-a-million-pounds in May and the EFL vote (as they should) yes in June.

“As a custodian, supporter of the club I’m deeply troubled that something that should be so exciting is causing such anxiety.

“Dagenham, Macclesfield, Aldershot, Chester, Hartlepool are in desperate trouble with many others in League Two, exactly in the same position, they all have grass pitches.

“Imagine if Jim Parmenter (the chairman of Dover Athletic and on the National League board) got fed up with the awful crowds at Dover and as he has alluded to, walked away. It’s mainly wealthy chairmen at Eastleigh, Ebbsfleet and Dover that don’t support community clubs using these new technological excellent pitches.

“Their archaic approach will damage non-league, League Two for years and I guarantee they will look fools in years to come.  American footballers worth £150 million each play on field turf, the same company as Sutton use.  Champions League, World Cup qualifiers and Women’s World Cup and FA Cup all play on 3G!

“Sorry it’s a long one but I can’t keep quiet anymore!  It’s a disgrace that we could be relegated twice for deciding it’s not right putting our club at the risk of financial ruin as we’ve seen in the National League these last few weeks.

“Ambitious yes, putting our club at risk, NO! This has taken a lot of soul searching, it’s only my personal view and one that I’ve been worrying about for months.  Instead of enjoying this season it would break my heart to rip up the pitch. Perhaps it’s time to watch the Saints (Southampton).”

Bromley played Workington in Cumbria on a mud-bath, described as a Sunday League pitch, salvaging a 1-1 draw courtesy of Jack Holland’s headed equaliser with 11 minutes remaining.

Bromley play Tuesday night’s replay on a 3G pitch at Hayes Lane and Neil Smith’s side are expected to progress through to the FA Trophy Quarter-Finals for the very first time against a club that play two levels lower.

Bromley are the highest ranked side left in the competition.  They sit in seventh-place, the final play-off berth, just two points behind Doswell’s side.

The club have stated that they will rip up their artificial pitch and relay a grass pitch should they win promotion from the Vanarama National League at the end of the season, despite laying a 3G pitch last summer.

A potential Vanarama National League Promotion Final between Bromley and Sutton United at Wembley Stadium in May, then, with the winners forced to dig up their 3G pitch in order to gain promotion into League Two for the first time.