Sooner or later it will come crashing

IS IT wrong to chuckle over the latest financial problems facing the Channel Islands’ most professional, most successful sports team – Jersey Reds?

Greene King IPA Championship rugby on our doorstep: But can Jersey Reds sustain it after the RFU cuts?
Greene King IPA Championship rugby on our doorstep: But can Jersey Reds sustain it after the RFU cuts? (27173055)

Yes and no.

No, because the way Jersey Reds and its fellow Greene King Championship clubs have been dealt an unexpected card, totally out of the blue.

Yes, you can afford a smile because they, like so many other rugby and football clubs up and down the country, seem to believe that money is grown on trees and they can always find someone to subsidise their fun. And, oh yes, they are Jersey and are we not brought up to raise a smile at the other island’s difficulties?

Jersey Reds, who have already received £150,000 from Jersey’s government to keep them afloat, have risen outstandingly like no other sports team the Channel Islands has seen. But, to what extent the loss of upwards of a quarter of a million pounds next season has an effect on a sporting project that seems to have got out of hand in recent times remains to be seen.

It should be seen as a stark warning to all sports clubs and this columnist happens to have believed for a long time now that the bottom will fall out of much of the UK football and rugby club scene sooner or later because there are simply not enough sugar-daddies around.

It appears – and you always have to be a little guarded on these matters when you don’t see the books – that both Guernsey FC and Raiders run a tight ship in providing a level of football and rugby never before available to locals in a century-plus of both sports.

But more and more semi-professional football and rugby clubs have hit big problems because they have overdone the professional bit. They got over-excited.

We hear of stories of Isthmian South East teams paying £600 a week to strikers when their average home crowd is circa 100. Madness. Unsustainable. Unjustifiable.

In rugby, look what happened to the Midlands club that the Aussie Veamatahau twins went off to play for.

In its 75th anniversary season Peterborough Lions, who play at a similar level to Raiders, were last year playing in National Division Two where they relied heavily on the use of a handful of Premiership Academy players. If those players were not available to any club on a Saturday, that club lost.

The Championship teams, to be able to compete, all extended their squads, taking players from the top two National divisions.

The knock-on effect came when the three Midland teams that were relegated from National 2 last year, including Peterborough, lost all of their players back to the National leagues.

One club had to drop out of the leagues altogether and another – South Leicester – lost 240-0.

As a National League side last season, Peterborough had to be PAYE registered and provide a pension scheme.

Yet, they still found cash to pay the Veamatahaus for their services.

Jersey, you would have thought, will now have to cut their cloth appropriately or risk a major implosion somewhere down the line. I don’t want to see that happen because it will have rendered a vintage period in their history as wasted years.

Jersey Bulls, meanwhile, will look on and surely realise that the GFC way is the safe and only way to maintain a solid and worthy existence.

Well, you would hope so.

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