Last two in, first two out? – don’t spoil a good thing

THEY say ‘careful what you wish for’ – and in thinking about poor Manzur’s new predicament and, perhaps even the future of Alderney football, that saying is perhaps quite apt.

Football is nothing but a sport happy to take advantage of the weakened and it is a sad fact that there will be many in the local game and club hierarchies that will be glad to hear of Manzur’s new problems.

For some time rumours have abounded that one leading club official had sent out an email that Manzur, a club who have been a big plus for the FNB Priaulx League and lower divisions, should be debarred from involvement in the top flight unless they have either a home pitch of their own or a youth section.

Harsh and anti-competitive.

And there are those who would chop Alderney off at the knees on the grounds of the costs involved in sending a squad of players to the northern isle once a season.

Yet, I’d bet, if you put a full set of club delegates in a room and challenge them to back up their groans/concerns with a negative killer vote against either Manzur or Alderney, the hands would remain rammed deep in their pockets.

The presence of both Manzur and Alderney in the Priaulx these past few seasons has enabled the top flight to be both more competitive and more interesting.

For periods both have been just about as good as any other team, Alderney pushing hard for one title and, very recently, Manzur playing some excellent football and pushing for a top-three spot.

Both deserve to be backed, and while reserved in their public reaction, for sure Manzur are privately fuming, pointing to a three-year agreement that has been broken without any negotiation.

It is understood that as part of a double whammy from their landlords, Manzur were informed of an immediate 100% increase in pitch hire, which has led them to go out and find additional funding.

Having signed a three-year deal, they wonder why they were not given one more season to find a new base and were even open to finding somewhere to play half their games as an emergency measure.

Inside Track learns that, encouragingly, GFLM have both Manzur’s and Alderney’s backs and despite the concerns over travel costs it would be both a surprise and a disgrace if the Ridunians were removed from the Priaulx – now.

Manzur, though, are a different proposition and they know they could be in big trouble, not necessarily from clubs who have long been annoyed by their easy, more carefree presence on the top stage, existing off the back of others, as opponents see it, but from being able to find a worthy solution to where they are going to play their football going forward.

Were Manzur to be a one or two team operation the scale of their problems would not be so severe, but with four XIs to cater for and a 120-strong playing membership which appears solid and committed, where does that go? KGV is very likely a no-go.

Inside Track understands the ground’s management wish to back community football as opposed to a single club. There is also the real prospect of their grass pitches being taken out of action for a year or more due to extensive drainage work.

The College Field?

CF Independant already have their studs into there and, of course, the proposed Old Elizabethans side will want to play on this fine ground sitting under the picturesque pavilion.

The park grounds, Beau Sejour?

They are all possibilities but have not been used for years and changing facilities are minimal or non-existent.

Could, though, Manzur at all levels exist as a team of wanderers, playing all matches as an away side and, for designated home games, pick up the pitch and facilities fee that the opposition club cares to charge?

That may be their best and only bet, but while they mull over their options it would be wise for all the Priaulx clubs to imagine how weaker, how less appealing, the league would be if it reverted back to seven teams, or even eight for that matter.

• MEANWHILE... the best football pitch on the island remains unused, with or without a lockdown.

Footes Lane has barely had a stud through its well-drained and preserved turf this winter and if Covid restrictions relating to travel make it impossible for GFC and Raiders to play there again next season, it would again be a waste of pricey space.

It is said that C and L are pricing Footes Lane out of use by the local clubs, all of whose players pay tax and in a very indirect way therefore contribute to its existence.

It seems a nonsense that ‘The Lane’ is being so under-utilised when pitches across the island are waterlogged, but at some point surely a deal, agreeable to both sides, can be done, should be done.

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