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Sport clubs hope inter-island ferry service will be affordable

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PARTICIPATION in inter-island competition will increase if a practical and affordable summer ferry service is established, sports clubs and associations have said.

Manche Iles has been named as first-choice operator of the proposed passenger-only service between Guernsey, Jersey and possibly Alderney.

Guernsey’s and Jersey’s States launched a tender process in December for an operator that could provide day-trips between the islands from May to September.

Economic Development president Charles Parkinson has said the current offer would provide an additional 25,000 seats but that further dialogue is needed to meet those scheduling requirements.

Gary Roberts, chief executive officer of the Guernsey Football Association, said the proposed service could increase sporting opportunities for islanders.

‘Additional inter-island transport connectivity will naturally have benefits for all sports, including football, although the caveats are that the sailing timetable needs to be conducive to practical day return trips and that the pricing structure must be realistic and financially viable,’ he said.

‘The provision of additional inter-island travel options that would allow sports organisations to compete in inter-island competitions on an affordable day return basis would increase the viability of participating in more inter-island matches and competitions, which can only be a positive experience for the participants.

‘In the recent past, the GFA and local football clubs have all experienced difficulty in sourcing inter-island travel that is affordable and also viable in terms of enabling participation.’

‘We are aware that this issue is not confined solely to football but one that has been experienced by all local sports to varying degrees.’

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Sports Tourism Action Group founder Dave Piesing hoped the service would go ahead as planned.

‘It will be a welcome and much-needed improvement if it comes to fruition,’ he said.

‘I am sure it will be very popular and well used, not only by sports clubs but by islanders generally.’

As the former chairman of the Guernsey Cricket Board, Mr Piesing said it could be a game-changer.

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‘The Channel Islands Cricket League came to a standstill because of [the lack of practical sea travel].

‘It meant that any essential inter-insular matches had to be done by plane, which is more expensive.’

Guernsey Athletics development officer Tom Druce said the cost of travelling between the islands had risen to the point that ‘many athletes and their families feel they may as well be attending a competition in the UK.

‘In principle, obviously this will be hugely important for us in terms of our inter-insular costs,’ he said.

‘The inter-insular is extremely important as a development fixture at age group level. Since Condor have failed to provide a day-trip service, the cost of attending the inter-insular has risen to a level where many of the athletes feel they may as well be attending a competition in the UK for the amount of money their parents are paying for flights.

‘Aside from the official inter-insular, our track and field series is well established and we are ahead of Jersey in that regard – but it would certainly be beneficial for both islands to have a day-trip ferry link in that I envisage plenty of Jersey athletes making the journey over to take part in our event.

‘This obviously benefits them, but also our own athletes getting the chance to compete against different people is clearly useful.’

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