‘Best route forward’ for women's football

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NEW goalscoring guidance designed to save the ‘integrity’ of the JFA Combination’s Women’s Division has been implemented for matches involving strugglers Grouville FC.

For the remainder of 2022/23 all fixtures featuring the eastern-parish outfit will have a goal-difference cap of five, to avoid heavily one-sided results which could deter player engagement and lead to the loss of another team.

Portuguese United Women’s withdrawal led to a return to a four-team division last season, although Grouville’s efforts have long been hampered by player shortages and there was a real threat that they too would fall by the wayside.

It is understood that the new guidance was plotted and agreed on by the remaining clubs, including Rozel Rovers, Jersey Wanderers and St Lawrence. If any of those sides move five goals ahead of Grouville the contest will end at that stage and players from each team can be mixed together for the remaining, ‘friendly’ minutes.

The Jersey FA had already agreed to scrap their ‘three strikes’ rule for women’s football this term – a regulation that expels teams who forfeit three games before 75% of their scheduled fixtures have been played.

St Paul’s Reserves were removed from the men’s Division II standings earlier this week having fallen foul of the ruling for the second time in 11 months. They were also withdrawn in 2021/22.

‘The initial concern was that Grouville were facing challenges, in terms of recruiting players and whether they would be able to fulfil their games,’ said Jersey FA football services manager Jonathan Le Fondre.

‘Within the women’s programme it’s important that we are thinking outside the box, to ensure we retain the competition within our rules. The football community on the women’s side proactively got together and they approached us to establish what the best route forward would be to eliminate the risk.

‘This isn’t a rule change. This is something that has been issued as guidance and the teams all said it’s what they want to do. It has been overseen by the competitions’ committee, who were happy for the guidance to go out.

‘Capping the score will help with the management of the game, to make it a better environment for everyone involved. Our priority was to make sure the league has integrity within our rules and that it isn’t reduced down to three teams. There has been a wave of support from all teams in that division.’

Grouville’s 8-0 loss to St Lawrence on Sunday has been registered as 5-0 defeat. The fifth goal was scored in the 51st minute but Grouville opted to continue with ten players for the remainder, rather than calling on St Lawrence substitutes to make it 11 versus 11.

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