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FA to allow artificial pitches in FA Cup

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The Football Association (FA) is to allow the use of 3G artificial pitches in every round of the FA Cup, starting from next season (2014-15).

Until now, artificial playing surfaces have not been allowed beyond the competition's first round proper.

The announcement is the latest endorsement given to artificial pitches by the FA, which is increasingly calling for clubs of all levels to install non-grass pitches in order to allow more community football to take place.

FA general secretary Alex Horne said: "Clubs are seeing the benefits of using 3G surfaces across the football pyramid and clubs who play on those surfaces can now retain home advantage in the competition.

He added that the community aspect played a part in the decision, too. "3G pitches are a very useful asset and capable of delivering 50 plus hours per week as compared to a natural turf pitch which can deliver perhaps five hours per week," he said.

"This is clearly an advantage for clubs, or communities, wishing to deliver a pitch with sustainable running costs.

"The value of 3G pitches has been clearly demonstrated during the recent wet weather where leagues within the grassroots game have migrated to them to address fixture backlogs."

A recent survey by Sky Sports showed that the poor state of grass playing pitches is having a negative effect on grassroots football.

Last week, Sport England announced that it is cutting its funding for grassroots football by £1.6m, following a steady decline in the number of people playing the sport regularly.

• Artificial surfaces have not been permitted in English professional football since 1995.

In January 2014, clubs in the Football Conference voted against allowing artificial turf being used for matches until the end of the 2014-15 season.

Maidstone United Football Club, which plays in the Isthmian League Premier Division - the seventh level of the English football pyramid and one below the Conference - is currently the highest-ranking club to have installed an artificial pitch at its main stadium.

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The Football Association (FA) is to allow the use of 3G artificial pitches in every round of the FA Cup, starting from next season.
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