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Planners only have to look next door and into history for answer on new stadium

Inside Track | Published:

LOCAL football has undergone an enormous, seismic even, shake up this past 10 years.

Grand entrance: The projected new home of Guernsey football which will have a 3G training pitch and main grass pitch north of the road facing offices, restaurant and bar facilities and changing rooms. (23314348)

It’s been painful to experience and see, but the island’s biggest sport is coming out of the other side.

More danger looms though and key football officials are becoming nervous at the prolonged silence from the authorities on whether to give a green light to the Victoria Avenue stadium project first announced – in this paper – nine months ago.

For the Development and Planning Authority to reject Guernsey football’s multi-million plans at Victoria Avenue to take the island’s biggest sport – both in the distant past and now – long into the 21st century would be scandalously wrong.

And why?

The planners only have to look a few yards to the west to see why.

For more than a century and a quarter, The Track [The Cycling Grounds to give the arena its first title], has been staging big football matches within its granite walls.

While the ground was recognised as the home of island football (remember the petition to keep it there post Footes Lane build), there was never any issue with the game staging mass public events.

Whether that was a Muratti, where attendances rose to 11,000 plus in the early 50s, the inter-island Upton clashes, Jeremie Cup finals, representative games at various age-levels or key Priaulx League or cup fixtures, it did not matter whether the approaches were busy or not.

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Quite simply, the organisers coped, as did those living along Victoria Avenue.

On both sides, spectator and resident, you got on with it.

For the biggest games if you wanted head to The Track you bore in mind the issue of how to get there, because, as per the new plans, only relatively few cars were allowed inside the ground.

That often meant walking from some way away or catching the bus from Town.

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Are we now so lazy a society that we cannot continue with that arrangement?

Nor did it matter how many times a football season the ground staged big games with crowds circa or way above what Guernsey FC will draw along to their proposed new ground.

Equally, if Guernsey FC and their close buddies, the Guernsey FA, wished to shelve their Victoria Avenue plans and were able to strike a deal with the owners of the Track – Belgrave Wanderers – it would go ahead with nothing more than a nod towards the Isthmian League.

Development and Planning would not have a say.

The prolonged silence from the Authority is obviously causing some concern to the GFA and GFC who, it should not be forgotten, are coming together with an immaculately conceived project which will protect the future of football long into the 21st century.

It needs to happen.

Without the deal going through, the Green Lions’ future, in particular, could be decidedly wobbly.

In a nutshell, if the existing ‘major’ ground (The Track) meets the necessary criteria to stage events, it should be a given that something similar just a few yards away, should be allowed.

n JUST what is going on down at the Corbet Field?

One moment they are losing a diehard first-team coach in Jody Bisson, the next they are defaulting a Priaulx League fixture.

Now, Inside Track is hearing, arguably the club’s finest player, defender Damian Larkin, has had enough with the Rec and is on the way out.

Regarding the default, Vale Rec club president Martyn Lowe has been in touch to defend their corner.

‘The GFLM looked over our ground and Northfield on Friday and both were unplayable. Manzur argued they would lose the gate money as well as canteen and bar revenue if their game was moved elsewhere, so they were allowed to rearrange,’ he said.

Therefore, he felt it seems unfair Rec were deemed to forfeit their game on the same night.

n ALDERNEY’S Steve Concanen has called for a top division of refs with promotion and relegation into the top flight dependent on form and not simple availability.

It seems a wholly sensible suggestion because, clearly, the best officials are not taking charge of anywhere near enough of the most important games.

n THE annual badminton championship finals has long been one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, but the 2018 event (report in page 29) was something of a washout.

Where were all our Commonwealth and Island Games stars?

I have long held the view that all sportsmen and women who benefit so much from the experience of playing at the highest sporting table – i.e. the Commonwealths – should help sell their sport on the domestic stage and, in badminton terms, surely, the island championships is the most eminent event.

It’s easy to do. The associations just need to enforce it.

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
author

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