It is with regret that we have to postpone our one and only pre-season friendly against Risborough Rangers of the Hellenic Division One East league. Risborough, just like the Bulls were unbeaten last season at the same level and the match was going to be a tremendous occasion for both clubs. Over 85% of their travelling party had never visited the island before.
Jersey Bulls Director, Ian Horswell commented, “Whilst the game was always going to be held behind closed doors with no fans due to the Island’s ruling on mass gatherings, it was something Risborough were happy to do when they approached us back in April. Since then, the Risborough Rangers manager, Mark Eaton has worked tirelessly to organise the trip and producedsome excellent mitigation of the prevention of Covid-19. This included every member of their travelling party to be PCR tested in the UK before travelling.
Whilst the Island’s borders are open, the fixture has been cancelled on the basis that an event cannot deliberately attracted international visitors.
Horswell added, “This fixture could have been the first contest in the Channel Islands to be played since lockdown with an overseas team. Risborough had robust safety procedures on how they travel to Jersey and this is something that our authorities could have embraced. We can only stress as a club that the safety of our players, management, supporters and the wider Jersey community must come first and we hope that we can be playing football in front of our fans soon.”
Risborough Rangers Manager, Mark Eaton said, “We reached out to Jersey Bulls back in April after both our achievements of being unbeaten and winning our respective divisions was cruelly snatched away with the decision to expunge our results. Since then we have been really excited to play this prestigious fixture. We realise that the health and safety of everyone in these difficult times is of paramount importance but with the steps both ourselves and the Bulls had taken mitigate any risk we believe the fixture could and should have gone ahead as planned. In the UK we have been able to play friendly matches behind closed doors since the 1st August. Although we are really disappointed, we hope this is simply a postponement rather than a cancellation and we get the chance to play the Bulls sometime in the future. One thing is for sure having now got to know more about the club and the people running it, the Island of Jersey has a football team they can be really proud of.”
The Combined Counties League met last night in an FA meeting (Monday 17th August) and the league has said that they will not start until fans are permitted into stadiums. This is currently with the UK government and we hope to hear something in the next 5-10 days. The Bulls are expecting to play away fixtures only in the first few months of the new season. This will remain the case until the Jersey Government has deemed it safe for fixtures to be played in Jersey against English opposition.
Jersey Bulls will make no further comment.