CHERRIES chairman Eddie Mitchell has given the thumbs up to the prospect of the reintroduction of artificial pitches.

Mitchell was speaking after the Football League yesterday announced they would be seeking opinion on their possible return.

A public consultation will run until the end of April with views sought from clubs, supporters and officials.

Opinion will also be canvassed from bodies such as the Football Association, the Premier League, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers Association.

Mitchell told the Daily Echo: “I think it would be a blessing in disguise for lower-league clubs and think we will see artificial pitches replace turf pitches in years to come.

“In my opinion, it is progress and the way forward. Technology has made them so good now that it would be such a big saving for everybody.

“I would like to think the two lower leagues would be unanimous in putting them down and that all clubs would have pretty much the same playing surface.

“It would have to be universal in the lower leagues to start with and there would have to be a lead-in time for it because I don’t think it would be cheap. In the long run though it would be one helluva saving for everybody.

“Artificial pitches would be a god-send for lower league and non-league clubs that don’t have in-house training facilities because it would provide somewhere to train every day.”

Mitchell added: “If they were to return, it would be nice if there was some financial help given to clubs to help put them down. Some would probably need it.

“I don’t have any first-hand experience of playing on them but from listening to people and reading articles, they are vastly improved now. We have been looking at artificial grass for our five-a-side pitches.

“I know they use them in Russia and I have spoken to Max (Demin) about them. They are forced to use them because of the weather.

“I don’t see a problem, providing everybody has got the same playing surface and it is a good surface. I think it is a good idea and am all for it.”

Lee Bradbury’s squad trained on artificial pitches at Littledown and Two Riversmeet during the recent cold snap.

The Football League has released a 32-page consultation document and supporters can take part in a survey on its website.