'St Paul’s can survive Bulls exodus'
ST PAUL’S FC coach Stuart André remains confident his club will avoid falling by the wayside next season, despite the threat of multiple departures to Jersey Bulls FC.
The defending Jersey Football Combination Premiership champions could in theory lose their entire first team squad to the newly formed Combined Counties League club in 2019, with the Island’s top footballers being offered a long-awaited opportunity to play at a higher level. Players can remain dual-registered with their Combination club while appearing for the Bulls, but given the commitments associated with a 40-game season in the UK league there are unlikely to be many willing to appear regularly for both.
That could leave St Paul’s relying solely on their up-and-coming juniors and current reserves to survive, but André is still hoping for stability.
‘It’s hard to answer now and be 100 per cent confident, because they could take ten or 15 of our players,’ he said. ‘But our intention is to have a team with a steady flow of players coming through.
‘It was disappointing not to have an under-18s last year but we’ve got that back in place now and hopefully they will fill the void.
‘The issue might be understanding how it works with dual-registered players. I imagine they [Bulls coaches] will pick their strongest squad, rather than taking a certain number from each team, but if we have ten players would they take all ten? Or take five, leave five and then pick from other teams like St Peter, Wanderers etcetera, too?
‘There are a few questions still to be answered.’
In spite of a predicted drop in standards within the Combination, André is in favour of the UK move.
‘From a personal point of view I’m not against it, but I know people within club and around the Island have got different views,’ he said.
‘We’ll probably be one of the teams affected the most but we have definitely lacked something at the top level for top players.
‘We’ve seen with Guernsey how the standard has fallen over there. Their league has suffered so it will be interesting to see what happens here, but as long as a plan is in place long term and it’s covered financially I’m not against it. It would be no good setting it up for it to break down in a couple of years, after having an affect on Jersey football.
‘It looks like the homework has been done, and until you try no one is going to know.’