LISTEN: Rangers and Manzur to join forces

RANGERS will remain Rangers – unchanged – bar a new prefix to their club title.

The grass pitch at the KGV where Manzur Rangers will play in the FNB Priaulx League hosted the popular Rangers’ Super Sevens Youth Football Festival over the weekend. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin, 29606305)
The grass pitch at the KGV where Manzur Rangers will play in the FNB Priaulx League hosted the popular Rangers’ Super Sevens Youth Football Festival over the weekend. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin, 29606305)

This follows confirmation that Manzur is to be integrated into the now St Andrew’s-based club.

Senior officials at Guernsey’s oldest football club – Rangers were formed in 1893 – have sought to allay fears among current and former players that the red-and-blacks would lose their heritage in a merger, and that it will be business as usual, except more powerful, with soaking up Manzur, the former social league club who have risen in prominence over their 10-year lifespan.

Ahead of an imminent official announcement of the merger of the two FNB Priaulx League clubs, it has been confirmed that Mark Romeril, coach and driving force of Manzur, will lead the combined side next season and in the background Island manager Chris Tardif and GFC assistant coach Stewart Moyles are lined up to be technical consultants.

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Rangers' Jon Taylor said that the desire to advance the club had been there for some while and the current situation had largely stemmed following Darren Ogier stepping down as president and first-team coach and an in-house decision to be transparent over future coaching choices.

Applications for a new Priaulx coach were sought and three names came forward, explained Taylor.

One of those, it turns out, was Romeril, following a conversation at a recent cup game, and looking to capitalise on Manzur’s desperate need for a home venue for their three lower teams, having lost access to the Track.

‘It was an olive branch remark,’ said Taylor.

‘We continued talking, he talked about the future of Manzur and that they could potentially be lost as an affiliated club, and I said we were going through a process in terms of application for a Priaulx coach and said “we would welcome you putting in application. Would it be of interest to you?”

‘That is where it comes from.’

Only weeks ago Romeril, who leads his Manzur side into a Guernsey FA Cup semi-final against St Martin’s at Northfield tonight, said that Manzur could fold if they did not sign a handful of Priaulx-standard players to fill the void left by players returning to the Green Lions.

It seems he has found more than a handful, with an exciting bunch of talented young players emerging at Rangers who finished the season well and managed to avoid the wooden spoon.

‘It came out of the blue three weeks ago,’ said Romeril over the weekend.

‘Jon Taylor and Mark Bousfield asked me for a chat and it went from there,’ he added.

Romeril admitted his club had ‘come to the end of the road of our current model’.

The deal is advantageous to both clubs, with Rangers strong in numbers and a highly promising bunch of youngsters at most age-groups and almost nightly training facilities on the KGV 3G, Manzur with a small number of high-quality players, no training facility but a deal with Guernsey Football League Management to use the high-quality KGV grass pitch vacated by St Jacques rugby as their home ground.

Rangers, previously, had been hoping to use that very same pitch, having recognised that their own little St Andrew’s venue was not conducive to good football, did not help their development pathway and a negative in terms of attracting senior players to the club.

Taylor admitted that the Rangers committee were initially ‘very nervous’ about how Manzur’s integration would look to their players and former members.

‘[But] the Manzur opportunity for us is about resource, sponsorship, the fact that they want to play at KGV where is where we want to evolve to as a club and we see this [KGV] as our senior football home.

‘The application from Manzur is too compelling to turn down.

‘So for us, it is about honouring that 125 years history and Rangers will be the branded team and Rangers control of the club continues.’

The upshot of the merger is that the new Manzur Rangers will have teams in the Priaulx, Lancaster One and Ravenscroft U18s.

Both Rangers and Manzur will retain separate sides in Lancaster Two, Rangers will also have a Lancaster Three side and both Manzur and Rangers will have separate teams in the Veterans’ division.

Rangers U16s, U14s and Corbet Cup age-group will remain fully under the Rangers banner.

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