While Jersey continue to wait, we have moved on
Saturday 6th October 2012, 2:30PM BST.
REGARDLESS of the outcome of future Uefa Congress verdicts on allowing small islands full membership and access to regular international competition, it is soothing to think that Guernsey football – at elite level at least – is in a sound place.
Can Jersey say the same thing?
No, I don’t think they can.
We have Guernsey FC and appropriate competition on a weekly basis, Jersey has a stale domestic competition which will take them nowhere and still harbours slim hopes of a route into Europe.
This week some in the sister isle got excited with news that Gibraltar had made some progress in their own bid to achieve full Uefa status.
It’s since been reported that Jersey Football Association officials are keenly watching Gibraltar’s situation closely after the British colony was made a provisional member of Uefa.
Former JFA president Ricky Weir worked hard during his recent six-year tenure to get Jersey recognised by Uefa and although it’s only a small step for the Gibraltarians, it’s regarded as a step in the right direction and the Caesareans will hope to benefit off the back of it.
For the record, Gibraltar previously failed to secure full membership, by a large majority as it happened, in January 2007, at the Uefa Congress in Germany.
They will be hoping the same fate does not befall them again at next May’s 37th Ordinary Uefa Congress in London, but in such circles large majorities don’t normally swing suddenly into minorities.
It appears from comments in our sister newspaper the Jersey Evening Post this week, Jersey are not building up their hopes of a turnaround in views.
JFA chief executive officer David Brookland said: ‘Former JFA officials Ricky Weir and Paul Creeden worked hard on our case over recent years and we’ve always known that we have this stumbling block because we are not seen as an independent nation which I think you need to have in terms of what the United Nations look for and we are not defined as that.
‘We’ve always gone down the route of trying to get some kind of a small nations tournament together with a lot of jurisdictions similar to us and that is partly what led to the four nations tournament we had in Gibraltar last summer.
‘We’re still keen to explore anything we can along those lines and we will be interested to look at what the Uefa decision for Gibraltar actually means and whether it will come off and they will become a full member.’
So will Jersey, who no doubt realise but would probably never admit, that every season Guernsey plays on the national ladder and they rely on domestic football will see them fall further behind their traditional enemy, look to follow Gibraltar down the Uefa route?
Well, the new men in charge down Jersey way don’t appear overly hopeful or that it is particularly a good idea.
Their new CEO said: ‘The critical thing for us is that we’ve asked the FA to give us some comments on this matter because the JFA is totally dependent on FA funding for our development officer [Brian Oliver], half an administration person and myself as CEO.
‘Education, Sport and Culture also provide funding towards football development etc. so if we were ever to go down the Uefa route and it was something the FA did not agree with, we could lose our funding and if that was to happen we absolutely couldn’t do it.
‘Obviously we’re interested in what will happen with Gibraltar but we’ve always got to recognise that we are totally dependent on the FA for all of our support for everything we do here for football.
‘We certainly want to see where this ends up and what it actually means and whether it opens a door that we want to explore in some way.
‘We also have to find out how the FA views it because we could not do anything that would ever jeopardise our relationship with them.’
So there we are. Jersey need the Football Association and, of course, it is no different here although ever since we and the FA became joined at the hip, more and more problems for the domestic game have cropped up due to the FA’s insistence on us little islanders following their teachings and failing to recognise we are not a county in the way Warwickshire or Middlesex are.
But there is no going back and I hope our GFA top brass are not wasting any mental energy in pursuing the same route as the red-and-whites.
Jersey clearly seem to think it would be attractive to have ‘some kind of a tournament played out over 18 months home and away with possibly a final at the end of it’, said their CEO.
‘That would give us a fairly regular programme that the public would be interested in and if we could achieve something like that then that would be absolutely brilliant.’
I think he is wrong in thinking it would be a hit with the public.
Jersey football has been poorly supported for years and, from this viewpoint, they do not have the same community feel that we enjoy and, I pray, will also maintain.
Their stance mirrors that of the ‘Your Shout’ forum anti-GFC brigade, that the glory days of the old Priaulx or Marquis League in Jersey, the Jeremie and the Wheway, will somehow be restored.
They won’t…they are symbolic of the Channel Islands when footballs had laces and men wore long coats, donned caps and smoked 40 a day.
Life has moved on and won’t get slower, let alone stop and turn around about face.
Modern lives are very busy and players and spectators won’t commit time as their fathers and grandfathers did, so harping on about the past won’t do any good.
The modern demand is for fresh, new challenges like the one GFC is providing our very best players.
Footnote: Spain, the current world champions, have already confirmed that they will, once again, fight Gibraltar’s membership of Uefa.
The Spanish are worried that their admission would open the door for the Basque and Catalan regions, who already play unofficial friendly matches, to seek their own independence.
Jersey and Guernsey you have no chance of joining the Liechtensteins and San Marinos of this world.