Concord Rangers manager Danny Cowley thinks it’s time to look at 3G pitches

Echo: Frozen - Concord's pitch on Saturday Frozen - Concord's pitch on Saturday

DANNY Cowley says the FA should look into helping non-league clubs finance all-weather 3G pitches to avoid the annual cull of so many winter fixtures.

Cowley, manager of Ryman Premier side Concord Rangers, and a PE teacher at Rayleigh's FitzWimarc School, says he’d like to see grass-roots football clubs using new artificial pitches for matches and for community sports use.

Concord's home game with Wingate on Saturday – along with virtually all senior football matches in the county – was postponed because of the snow and freezing conditions.

The only local game which went ahead was in reserve division three of the Olympian League. It saw fourth-placed Toby win 2-1 at second-from-bottom Ryan FC – on the 3G pitch at Wadham Lodge.

“I’m a traditionalist, but I’m starting to think these 3G pitches have improved so much that they are now worth looking at,” said Cowley.

“Maidstone United have taken this route and I think they were the only Ryman club to get their game on just before Christmas (on their 3G pitch at the Gallagher Stadium, which opened in July 2012).

“The problem for clubs is how expensive these pitches are. But if clubs could get funding from the FA or local government then I think it could be a successful model.

“When they are not being used for the club’s football commitments they could be used for community sports, and clubs could work in partnership with local schools and other sporting organisations.

“I think that will make them financially viable and allow us to really start delivering on the Olympic legacy we’ve all heard about.”

A combination of bad-weather postponements and latter-stage cup commitments means Concord could be playing up to three times a week during the run-in.

Cowley also said he’d like to see the season extended so that it runs from early August to late May to avoid this type of congestion. But he is not in favour of having a set winter break because he feels that would leave open the possibility of teams being left idle in perfectly playable conditions when we have mild winters.

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