‘We are back... all systems go,’ said Tony Vance, who along with Guernsey FC officials was taken aback by yesterday’s CCA announcement that from 4 October the borders are fully open to the non-vaccinated, a league prerequisite to the club returning to competitive action in the Isthmian South Central division.
A hastily-arranged GFC board meeting was called for last evening to agree to get going after 18 months of inaction, but club chairman Mark Le Tissier said earlier, in a personal capacity: ‘I am very positive. We will find a way of making it work, even if puts the club at financial risk’.
Le Tissier said that unless there is a further change to the CCA travel policy it would cost the club £25k to cover the costs of lateral flow tests for the rest of the season.
‘That is a shame... they have missed an opportunity to help us. It could still scupper our participation if the board are nervous about it financially.’
Le Tissier hoped that would not be the case but said the ‘devil is always in the detail’.
‘It is a massive step forward and gives us the opportunity to move forward, even though we have got the uncertainty around the costs of lateral flow tests.’
Le Tissier pointed out that under the updated guidelines, each time a visiting team flies into Guernsey each and every player or member of the travelling party will have to fork out £25 individually for the lateral flow test and each one will also have to complete a travel tracker form.
It is not clear whether the Isthmian League will ask the Guernsey club to cover those lateral flow costs for incoming teams.
Le Tissier said that element of detail will add a wealth of extra administration but, overall, the club are delighted with the breakthrough.
Meanwhile, indications from the CCA are that the need for lateral flow tests will not remain in place for too much longer.
Chairman Peter Ferbrache said: ‘We did consider whether or not we were going to continue [with lateral flow tests] for the next few weeks or whether we should waive the costs of lateral flow tests, but we decided it is a significant sum, over a quarter of a million pounds for the next four weeks or so to the public purse, and we didn’t feel we could justify that.
‘I can’t guarantee what the CCA are going to do but we are going to look at it within the next four weeks and it may well be – it might not be, also – we will be saying in two or three weeks “no more lateral flow tests” and that will solve the problem for the football club, the rugby club and other sports bodies coming backwards and forwards to the island.’
After all the previous doubts about a return this season, it now seems very possible that GFC will play their first game at South Central level on Saturday week, which could be away at Sutton Common Rovers, who last night were knocked out of the FA Cup 3-2 by the Jersey Bulls.