instagram envelope_alt facebook twitter search youtube_play whatsapp remove external_link loop2 arrow-down2

The Payne Game: EFL keeps failing to find the right pitch

Surface tension:
Harrogate had to
replace their 3G
pitch with grass

IT’S safe to say the English Football League has the begging bowl out. The Premier League may be awash with television money but the 72 other clubs that make up the pyramid are not.

EFL chairman Rick Parry’s letter demanding a government bailout has ruffled feathers, when the view in parliament is that top-flight riches should be being used rather than taxpayers’ money.

Parry has been called to face members of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee next Tuesday where his role in so-called Project Big Picture will be discussed.

The only big picture that seemed be involved in exchange for the cash was making the big clubs bigger, including Parry’s beloved Liverpool. Yet with the EFL always liking to stress how their mostly loss-making clubs are community assets, surely it’s time to put those words into action with a solution right at their feet.

Harrogate won promotion to the EFL last season playing on a 3G pitch which played a part in funding their success since being installed in 2016.

Yet they have been forced to rip it up as all EFL games must be played on grass, a throwback to the grazed legs and uncertain bounces of the 1980s and early 1990s at QPR, Oldham, Preston and Luton.

But modern-day synthetic pitches are light years ahead of those and, more relevantly, can act as money-spinners.

Instead of a football ground being used once a fortnight, all manner of community matches, training sessions and events took place seven days a week at Harrogate and former National League rivals Sutton United and Bromley.

Harrogate managing director Garry Plant admitted the club had taken a ‘big hit’ in ripping up their surface and said: ‘Putting it down was the best thing the club ever did.

‘It became a community hub and it was a shame to see it go. It affects the community. It affects the football club.’

If the EFL doesn’t reconsider its antiquated rules, it can hardly argue it is doing everything it can to help itself.