When Promotion Can Result In Being Relegated Twice?

We covered in a news article in May 2016 about the rise of the number of artificial pitches being installed around the country. Pioneers among those clubs replacing their grass pitches, were Maidstone United, closely followed by Sutton United, both then in National League South. At the time the National League took the decision to allow artificial surfaces, in both National League North and South, but not in the National League itself. However with the success of Maidstone United and Sutton United in both gaining promotion to the National League, the League changed its rules and allowed artificial surfaces in the National League itself. Subsequently, Bromley who were already in the National League installed their own 3G pitch.

Artificial 3G pitch at Maidstone United

 

With Sutton United chasing promotion to the Football League this season and Bromley also in touch with the play off positions, then it is possible this season that one of these teams may gain promotion to the Football League. However artificial pitches are not allowed in the Football League. So unless these Clubs tear up their artificial surfaces and replace them with grass, then they won't gain promotion. As the Clubs have invested heavily in their artificial pitches (they can cost up to £500,000) and also gain income from them (as the artificial pitches can be used far more games than grass, they can be hired out by the Club), it unlikely that they would return to grass.

Well fair enough that is the Football League rules, but what is totally daft is that the National League have a rule that if a promoted Club is not able to take up its place in the Football League, then not only are they returned to the National League, but are also then relegated again to National League North or South. Which just seems crazy!

So keep an eye on the National League this season and expect if either of these Clubs gains promotion, for the debate of whether the Football League should accept artificial playing surfaces to reopen once more and if the Football League maintain their present stance, for pressure to be brought to bear on the National League to get rid of this double relegation 'punishment' rule.

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