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Eighth tier club could miss another season; no league game since February 2020

Eighth tier club Guernsey could be forced to miss another season and have not played a competitive league game since February 2020.

The non league side, who are based in the Channel Islands, have to start playing games by the 1st of November or they will face sitting out, according to the chairman of the Isthmian League.

The Green Lions have not played a league or cup game since February 2020 because of the Covid pandemic with Guernsey’s rules stating that people arriving must be fully vaccinated seven days before travel to avoid isolating.

Eighth tier club could miss another season

The club’s season had already been put back twice, having pulled out of the league last season.

“What we have said is if they can’t start the season by 1 November, that’s when we really need to bring in the draconian measure in saying ‘sorry, it’s not fair to anybody, therefore we want to suspend your membership for the season, but you come back in at step four’,” Isthmian League chairman Nick Robinson told BBC Radio Guernsey.

Guernsey were moved to the Isthmian League South Central division – the fourth tier of non league football in England – after a big restructure in May.

The club’s pre-season games with FC Isle of Man was postponed and the islanders last played a competitive game on the 22nd of February 2020 when they lost 6-0 to Ashford United.

A meeting of the FA’s alliance and leagues committees – which governs football in the two tiers below the National League – will discuss Guernsey’s case next week.

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Guernsey’s Covid rules currently mean it is not possible for unvaccinated players to come to the island without self-isolating, making matches unfeasible.

“It would be in my view wrong to remove the club from the division when there is nothing they can do about it,” added Robinson.

“It’s not even realistic to say ‘you’ve got to play on the mainland’ under the current regulations.”

Robinson said that forcing clubs to use players who are double-vaccinated wouldn’t be fair on the rest of those in the division, who would not face the same restrictions for their other matches.

“I believe that the individual has the right not to be vaccinated,” he added. “I wouldn’t agree with it, I’ve been double-vaccinated and I believe personally that is the right way, but I will fight for the individual’s right not to be double-vaccinated.

“Should that stop him playing football? That’s the problem that our board faces because one member last time said ‘in the rest of the division my players haven’t got to be double-vaccinated to play in the other away matches’.

“That’s the conundrum that we have in trying to treat everybody the same.

“I believe what we need to do is hope that with vaccination ongoing as it is that everybody is a lot more comfortable. Hopefully the States [of Guernsey] will relax the regulations and we will be able to get a match played during October, or at least an agreement during October for what is going to happen for the rest of the season.”

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Guernsey’s most recent statement on the matter: “It’s been an uncertain time for us all here at Guernsey FC, as indeed for our island community and the wider world, and much work has been going on behind the scenes to find the best viable way forward for our club.

“We are delighted we now have some information to share with you.

“The Pitching In Isthmian Football League have agreed to postpone our September fixtures and manage the postponements to rearrange them later in the season rather than applying the 42-day rule.

“It is hoped that this will allow for time for States of Guernsey restrictions to ease sufficiently enough to enable us to welcome teams to Guernsey.

“We thank the league for their flexibility and understanding and our fans for their patience. We can’t wait to welcome teams and supporters back to Footes Lane.

“It’s been a while… but we are so excited at the prospect of being reunited with our wonderful community once again, and back in action providing a pathway and platform for our island’s finest footballers.

“We sincerely hope it will soon be time to roar once more! #COYGL”

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