Deputy Hugh Raymond, who holds political responsibility for sport within the States Assembly, says he has ‘never known it quite so positive’ in the wake of international attention brought by the British and Irish Lions’ upcoming training camp and confirmation of the inaugural VBET Cup.
Semi-professional outfits FC United of Manchester, Hashtag United and Cray Wanderers will play in the VBET Cup at Springfield on 10-11 July, hosted by Jersey Bulls. The tournament is is set to bring well over 100 football players, backroom staff and supporters to the Island, although it has been rumoured that FC United could bring as many as 300 fans.
‘There’s no question – there has been an underspend on sport over the years,’ said Deputy Raymond.
‘It has been said for decades ... the more people who play sport, the less of an effect there is on health, and you keep kids out of the Magistrate’s Court if they’re doing sport.
‘It’s great that we’re finally doing something and as for my bête noire [lack of attention to sports tourism] – I’m so glad that people are suddenly realising that sport does have a way of affecting tourism.’
Raymond has experience in the field, having helped organise international tennis tournaments in the mid-2000s, with prize money of up to $50,000.
‘When we used to run the tennis tournaments at Les Ormes we got up to £100,000 in [for the economy]. We used to take up the whole of the Summerville Hotel in the shoulder months, and fill the restaurants too.’
As well as Super League Triathlon – the multi-million-dollar franchise set for a return to the Waterfront this autumn – Jersey’s cricketers are due to welcome over 100 international players and support staff to the Island in September for a Cricket World Cup qualifier. Squads from Bermuda, Hong Kong, Italy, Kenya, Uganda are all due to touch down for a two-week stay.
Premiership rugby giants Leicester Tigers are believed to have chosen Jersey as a pre-season venue this August, while England’s elite netball squad are understood to be considering a similar trip.
In 2018, SLT brought an estimated financial return of £500,000 to Jersey’s economy, with the event also contributing to a local triathlon boom in recent years.