It is with a heavy heart that the Jersey Bulls have made the decision to remove themselves from the FA Cup qualification round draw on Friday. This is a pragmatic approach to achieving the clubs on-going ambitions.
Opting out of the FA Cup has been a hard decision. Everyone at the club has the utmost respect for the historic FA Cup competition. However, with a lack of foresight of fixtures, the regularity of flight cancellations and ultimately the realisation that any successful campaign results in a back-log of matches at the end of the season, the club is instead choosing to focus attention to the Combined Counties Premier League South and the FA Vase.
The sport of football requires a huge number of games. The Island maintaining a team in the prestigious Football League System is exciting. The Bulls squad played 58 matches last season, 28 of these were played away from home and 11 were midweek, this naturally has an impact. The current FA Cup replay set-up favours clubs on the mainland rather than island teams, in addition to the limited reclaim of travel expenses. The Bulls will channel club funds into prioritising the first teams footballing commitments.
The magic of the cup has huge allure; however, it will have to wait for one more season. The Bulls fully anticipate taking part next season, providing these footballing issues are laid to rest.
Chairman Russell Le Feuvre said, “It’s been such a hard decision to reach as a board, management team and players. We have agonised over it. Everyone naturally wants to take part in the FA Cup – it’s such an amazing competition and we thoroughly enjoyed our run last season. The FA Vase is managed differently to the FA Cup, with matches played just once a month, with no replays until you are successfully through to the final or knocked out. This just makes more sense for us right now.”
Manager Gary Freeman added, “As a group we have made the decision not to take part in the FA Cup but to focus on the league and vase competitions. We understand that many of our supporters will be disappointed, we are too, but it’s the right thing to do for the club at this time.”It was announced last week that the Jersey Bulls aim to put a youth (Under 18) team into the Youth FA Cup, becoming the first non-mainland team to do so. This is still the hope and has no bearing on the strength of the existing Bulls squad nor its financial resources.