After the announcement that The Football League had not approved 3G at its meeting yesterday there seems to be some uncertainty and worry amongst supporters. This is understandable but we should not be too pessimistic.
Yes it is disappointing that The Football League didn't approve 3G yesterday as both The Football League and ourselves expected. Yes it does raise the question as to what The Conference will now do. But anything more is pure conjecture at this stage.
One detail to correct: at the September meeting of The Football League where an informal vote was held we understand 17 Championship clubs voted in favour together with 14 League 1 and 15 League 2 clubs. That gives the 46/72 (64%) figure. At yesterday's meeting this percentage fell to 50% as we know but we do not have the breakdown of the 34/68, plus four abstentions.
Our information after yesterday's meeting is that The Football League clubs wanted more information on certain aspects of 3G. We don't know what that information is but it may well be to do with safety and injury questions. The PFA statement yesterday was anti-3G and 'menacing' and yes the Welsh game in Andorra was of course 'bad press'. Clearly the pro players have genuine injury concerns and unfortunately you can always criticise injury research, even FIFA/UEFA/FA research, and claim it's not relevant or not lengthy enough or wrong or biased, etc...
Despite all this 3G was only one vote short of being approved up to League 1!
Following yesterday’s meeting we understand The Football League is going to try and answer questions, reply to any concerns and provide further information to clubs before planning to hold another vote next year.
As for The Conference, well they already said clearly they intend to allow 3G next season. For me this is clear. I do not believe the Conference has to hold a vote on this matter. Of course the Conference Board could get nervous because The Football League have not yet approved 3G and decide to alter their stance. This is possible for every issue they deal with at any time. However I believe it is extremely unlikely they will go back on their declared intent because:
- they will realise that The Football League are close to voting in 3G and probably just need a bit more time
- The FA will continue to press for 3G. It is one of FA's leading policies going forward to improve English football at all levels
- The FA hold considerable sway over Conference, much more than they do over The Football League
- more and more clubs are turning to 3G and more and more 3G stadium projects are being considered by clubs at our level and below. 3G is growing everywhere as an accepted high-quality pitch surface. Two clubs now play in SPFL on it and an international rugby match will be played on 3G for the first time in a weeks' time at Kilmarnock. And if it's OK for rugby…
- they in any case have come round to believing it is the right thing to do and in the interests of their clubs...
- (and they know we ain't giving up without a fight...)
So despite this irritating hiccup – perhaps the 3G campaign was indeed taking us all too far, too fast? I do honestly believe we should not be overly worried. If we were to be promoted in May I still believe we would be able to go up.
You don't have to believe me of course, that's up to you. But don't please let the issue upset the buzz about this Sunday's big game and the tremendous season we're having in general. It certainly won't upset mine.