GFLM stand firm on ‘null and void’ verdict

THERE will be no reconsideration of how island football leagues were ended despite a contrary decision in Jersey – and no official Upton Park Cup for 2020.

Eight years ago North and Jersey Wanderers were battling it out at Northfield in a Jeremie Cup tie, but there won't be an official 2020 Upton Park cup clash between the two clubs.  
Eight years ago North and Jersey Wanderers were battling it out at Northfield in a Jeremie Cup tie, but there won't be an official 2020 Upton Park cup clash between the two clubs. (28135407)

Eyebrows have been raised here after Jersey Wanderers were handed the Jersey Premiership title on a ‘points-per-game’ basis.

This came fully a month after Guernsey declared all its leagues null and void after what they considered to be an instruction from the English FA.

That meant denying North, 10 points clear, a very likely 33rd Priaulx League triumph and a chance to play their first Upton in four years.

‘It was mandatory – no room for negotiation,’ said Guernsey Football League Management chairman Phil Corbet at the end of March, adding: ‘as a board and in consultation with the GFA it was decided consistency throughout our leagues was the best course of action. All leagues have been treated in the same manner.’

And despite some new social media calls for GFLM to review that decision and North to be handed the title on the same points-per-game ratio basis, Corbet said there would be no turning back.

‘We acted upon the guidance and information received by the GFA and we stand by that decision,’ he said yesterday.

North club president Colin Kimber backed that view, although he said it ‘breaks my heart’ that North had been denied a title they were almost certain to win.

‘I would love to see us awarded the Priaulx championship, but at the end of the day [Guernsey] followed official advice.

‘The situation is bigger than football and I would hope it gives us greater motivation to go on and win it next year.’

While surprised to hear the Jersey verdict, Corbet said there was no GFLM anger or disappointment that a contrary verdict had been reached just 20 miles away.

‘No, not at all. Football is a democracy and English leagues and county associations have different requirements and outlooks.’

The Jersey FA had canvassed the opinion of each Jacksons Combination club on how best to bring the current season to a conclusion and the majority felt that the fairest way was to settle matters on a points-per-game average rather than null and void the season.

The JFA board then convened and unanimously voted to support the opinion of the majority and conclude the season on that basis.

It meant that JTC Jersey Wanderers finished top of the league on an average of 2.62 points-per-game, ahead of St Ouen (2.29) and St Paul’s (2.25).

The decision surprised many who thought that the JFA Combination League would be declared null and void in line with the grassroots leagues in England and the FNB Priaulx League in Guernsey.

Wanderers were top by just two points from St Ouen with a game in hand when the league programme was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

St Paul’s, CI champions for the past six seasons, were seven points behind in third but had a game in hand on the leaders.

Wanderers still had five games to play for the remainder of the campaign, including matches against St Ouen and St Paul’s.

Wanderers club president Daryn Noble seemingly could hardly believe his club’s luck.

‘For the clubs to decide that this course of action is correct is phenomenal.

Manager Chris Andrews added: ‘[I am] disappointed the season couldn’t be played out as it as a close season where three teams could have won it and we still had to play the other two...but I can’t take away all the hard work the players and coaching staff and all the people behind the scenes have been put in.’

In a statement posted on Twitter, St Paul’s seem to have taken the decision largely on the chin: ‘A hugely disappointing conclusion this season for all clubs, many leagues were delicately poised for a fantastic finish. Congratulations to the divisional winners.’

In the Caesarean junior leagues, St Clement have been given the under-18s title for an average of 2.33 points-per-game – despite only having played three games all season, while Jersey Wanderers take the U16s title with a perfect average of three points per game.

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