The updated travel restrictions will take effect as of this Saturday, causing major disruption to the club’s ability to travel out and back in to the Island and fulfil its fixtures in the Combined Counties Football League.
The majority of Bulls football matches take place in Surrey and Hampshire, both counties which have areas that have been designated amber or red, while all nearby airports are also in amber or red zones.
This means if the players and the management team have to stay overnight, they would be expected to self-isolate for five days for returning from an amber zone or 14 days for returning from a red zone, regardless of the results of their first test received within 12-24 hours, presenting a logistical impossibility for the players and the club.
The changes have immediately put pressure on the cursed luck of the club since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic after they were first denied the promotion they had earned in Division I of the CCFL last season after the English Football Association took the decision to cancel and expunge the season from the records.
Due to previous travel restrictions imposed by the government, the club have already been forced to play some games on a Friday night, with an overnight stay at Gatwick Airport. That arrangement was also in place for a planned triple-header of games next weekend, starting with a Friday night ‘home’ game at Ascot United’s ground against Sandhurst Town and finishing with another home game on the Sunday against Westside, with an away trip to Epsom & Ewell in-between on the Saturday.
However, it is now highly unlikely that these two home matches will go ahead. It is understood that Bulls directors held a meeting late last night to discuss their next move and announcements will be made later today or tomorrow. They were unable to comment at this present juncture but more news should follow in tomorrow’s Jersey Evening Post.
Even with the new restrictions in place, it may not be entirely impossible for Bulls to continue with their season, for the immediate future at least as the isolation requirements only apply to travellers who have stayed overnight in the affected areas and not those who have travelled out and in from Jersey on the same day. However, that may present it’s own problems if flights are cut, as is expected, due to the fall in passengers, especially if travel is further complicated by adverse weather conditions or technical flight delays.
There are no flights in and out of Gatwick and Heathrow with EasyJet and British Airways next weekend that make it logistically possible to fly in and out on the same day, nor can Bulls combine the two.
That only leaves Blue Islands flight to Southampton as a viable option, which, for the Epsom & Ewell match on Saturday only, Bulls players would be able to arrive from and return to Jersey on that same day with enough time to honour the fixture, should the flights leave as scheduled.