The umbrella body for the sport are strongly considering creating their own green at the Corbet Field as two of the island’s established clubs wrestle with the issue of finances, falling numbers and failing to meet technical standards.
Garry Collins, acting president of the umbrella body, said ‘the last thing anyone wants to do is start closing clubs or not allowing certain rinks to be used’, but says the clubs need to wake up to the dire situation.
‘Bowls Guernsey will be officially inviting over a World ITO [technical official] to review the greens next year and if they are not fully up to standard, and or not fully health and safety compliant, then the clubs could face the danger of being closed, until they are brought back up to the standards required,’ said Collins.
‘Guernsey is a full international member of World Bowls and the island competitions qualify members to the British Championships and World Champion of Champions, therefore certain standards are required and expected.’
It has been a problematical summer for local bowls with the Delancey Green being out of use through infestation and Beau Sejour taking on the Northern Bowling Association members when their own, rather sickly green, was allowed to open mid season.
In the background the NBA and Guernsey Bowling Club are struggling to meet the States costs of maintaining the greens.
With the Sports Commission acting as a facilitator, negotiations have also been held with GBC considering moving to the Corbet Field and making use of a new rink on the area which currently sits a disused carpet green.
Wearing both his Bowls Guernsey and Vale Rec trustee hats on, Collins has been involved in those discussions
‘Bowls Guernsey cannot deny we are starting to look at other options, including creating our own green-keeping company to maintain all the greens, which will reduce costs by about 40% across the island or ultimately build a new green just for the island’s use, perhaps at the Corbet Field.
‘Therefore, having two greens together and enabling the island to host the British Championships [which requires having two greens together] which would see at least 500 people come to the island for the week, bringing an estimated £750,000 economic benefit to the island for that one event. Often [UK] clubs generate enough profits from the food and drink sales in that week to fund the green maintenance for a year or two.’
Collins added: ‘If Bowls Guernsey was forced into building a new green just for the island competitions, it would almost be for sure signing the death warrant of a club or two, but the time has come to face facts and perhaps clubs need to consider working together more.
‘It has been suggested again at the meeting last week that Island Leagues would benefit all the clubs, but culture change would be needed and to think beyond the clubs [own] interests and agree to free up some space to allow weekday nights to be used, thus allowing the island to campaign fully for new members islandwide, instead of now not being able to recruit as the fear of favouring one club over another.’