Calls for 3G grow following Les Quennevais news

Les Quennevais playing fields have been battered by adverse weather over the winter months Picture: DAVID FERGUSON

THE Jersey Football Association are suffering a fixture headache for the tail end of the combination season, following the news that the floodlit pitch at Les Quennevais Sports Centre is no longer available for midweek fixtures.

The devastating effects of Storm Ciarán, coupled with the sheer volume of fixtures and further unprecedented weather conditions have forced the ground team’s hand, with no choice but to close for essential maintenance.

Participation levels within local football have continued to rise year upon year, with an estimated 20% increase since pre-pandemic figures.

The loss of the floodlit pitch midweek has reignited the debate over Jersey’s desperate need for more 3G (artificial grass) pitches to service the excess demand.

The JFA’s chief executive David Kennedy said: “I am fully aware that all sports across the Island have expectations on the number and the quality of facilities in Jersey.

“However, speaking on behalf of football, we did our analysis and in 2020 it was clear that we needed another two full-size 3G pitches to be able to cope with the growing demand of local football.

“Fast forward four years and the number of Islanders involved in grassroots football has continued to increase at an astonishing rate.

“The amount of football being delivered by the clubs is heavily outweighing the number of facilities we have at our disposal.”

The Les Quennevais pitch has become an integral venue for the combination fixtures programme, enabling cup competitions to stay on track during week nights, as well as allowing the focus on league fixtures at the weekend.

With the loss of FB Fields due to the storm, as well as additional damage to club pitches, the strain on facilities is greater than ever.

What was already a struggle with fixture congestion has been exacerbated with the recent loss of Les Quennevais.

“If these patterns of disruptive weather become more commonplace, then we need to prioritise the future of our game,” added Kennedy.

“Artificial surfaces are much better at withstanding heavy rainfall and with the growing interest in the sport, we need pitches that can cope with the high amount of traffic expected by the increase in play and fixtures as a whole.”

The Jersey Evening Post understands that a meeting between the JFA and Government of Jersey has been set for the coming week to gain some clarity on the timescale surrounding the proposed new 3G pitch at Le Rocquier School.

In December, the Council of Ministers accepted an amendment to the Government Plan, lodged by the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel, which committed to prioritising £4.7 million of funds into the new sports facilities at the school in order to “improve access to sports facilities in the east of the Island.”

Kennedy added: “We look forward to meeting with the government to get some understanding of when we can expect the facilities at Le Rocquier to be delivered.

“In the meantime, the JFA are working tirelessly to produce an amended set of fixtures to complete all league and cup matches without having to extend the season too far from its initial deadline.

“This is a priority due to the re-allocation of pitches at Les Quennevais from football to cricket in mid-April which further reduces our options.

“All this means there will be far less flexibility in requests for rescheduling of fixtures from now on, and the likelihood of much more football to be played during the week nights when the clocks go forward on 31 March.

It is understood that several of the local combination clubs have expressed a strong interest in establishing a 3G surface at their own grounds.

The JFA receives additional funding from the Football Foundation, a charity which channels funding from the FA and the government into transforming the landscape of grassroots sport in the UK.

The hope is that, with the blessing of the Government of Jersey, some of the money the charity has allocated can be put into more 3G pitches being delivered across the Island. However, approval will need to be sought through the standard government channels.

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