HUNDREDS of footballers will be denied access to Springfield Stadium for six weeks while Government of Jersey contractors fast-track the relocation of pitchside fencing.
Island football officials have been told that all training sessions and fixtures must be cancelled from Monday 14 February, to ensure that the site improvements can be completed by the pre-set deadline of 31 March. As a result, Jersey Bulls could be forced to rearrange at least three home fixtures at late notice, while the Jersey Football Association is searching for an alternative venue for its community programmes.
The U18 Muratti, which was due to be held at Springfield on 6 March, will also be affected.
Plans for the work, which includes moving the high-fencing behind each goal backwards – making room for spectator-viewing areas – were passed in 2020, before being hit by numerous delays. The upgrade must be completed by 31 March so that England FA executives can sign it off before the end of the season.
The Bulls will not be eligible for promotion without the improvements, while the JFA intend to use the extra capacity for the 2022 Muratti Vase finals in May.
However, JFA chief executive David Kennedy has been left disappointed by the news of Springfield’s closure.
‘We only found out this week that the site must close,’ he said. ‘It came as a surprise because we had always been told that our programmes would be able to continue throughout the period of the works.
‘The closure comes as a real blow to our clubs and to the hundreds of players who use the facility. The JFA will also now have to stop a number of our programmes, including our after-school clubs, walking football league and Centre of Excellence sessions.
‘Ultimately, everyone is disappointed due to the short notice we’ve been given. If we had been aware that there would have been disruption we would have been able to put contingencies in place.’
Meanwhile, Jersey Bulls officials are confident that their league campaign will not be significantly hampered. That is despite there being no more free Saturdays before 30 April – the current cut-off date for regular-season fixtures.
Bulls’ home ties against Balham FC [Sat 26 Feb], Raynes Park Vale [Sat 5 Mar] and Banstead Athletic [Sat 19 Mar] will all have to be moved.
A Government of Jersey statement read: ‘While we would have preferred to keep sections of the pitches open throughout the work, the contractors have confirmed that with such a tight deadline, they need to have full access at all times.
‘We apologise for the inconvenience to the users of this facility, however it will ultimately bring long term benefits to everyone who plays football at Springfield.’