Channel hopping leaves Whyteleafe chairman hopping mad

Food for thought: Whyteleafe chairman Mark Coote

Food for thought: Whyteleafe chairman Mark Coote

First published in Sport
Last updated
Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

Whyteleafe chairman Mark Coote says he would rather take his team to Calais or Dieppe than Guernsey on August 13.

Leafe are one of four teams in Ryman Division One South with the unenviable task of travelling to the Channel Islands in mid-week.

The short notice has left manager John Fowler keeping his fingers crossed that his players can get the time off work, although his two right-hand men will not be travelling.

Coote and Fowler had been considering applying to the Ryman League to have the fixture moved, but decided against it.

Moreover, the chairman believes the FA made a mistake allowing Guernsey to join the English national football pyramid in 2011, saying it has forgotten what non-League football stands for.

He said: “The League is not going to change the fixture because we ask them to but they have got to consider the bigger picture.

“No one is saying that Guernsey don’t belong at this level, but these fixtures really put visiting teams at a huge disadvantage.

“All of Guernsey’s home games should be played on a Saturday, giving fans plenty of chance to get out there, and giving mangers the best chance of taking their strongest side.”

He added: “The Ryman League has forgotten what non-League football is all about.

“It’s about the volunteers who look after the ground, the fans who turn up week in week out, the players who get paid a pittance, and allowing Guernsey to join has affected them all.

“When Guernsey joined the English pyramid I don’t think the FA gave it enough thought.

“They are lovely people in Guernsey, but their admittance should not affect the clubs at this level and I believe the spirit has been taken out of the game.”

Ryman League rules regarding mid-week matches at Guernsey state the visiting club can request an earlier kick-off time, but Coote believes their request is likely to fall on deaf ears.

He said: “I cannot see Guernsey agreeing to it because it would put them at a disadvantage, why should they?”

In the 64 league games played on the Island since 2011, Guernsey have won 48, drawn eight and lost eight.

“If it was an earlier kick-off, we could make the trip in one day – although it is still a mad dash to get there," he added.

“Right now, I’d rather be playing in Calais or Dieppe because it takes a fraction of the time to get there.

“All the disadvantages are ours. We’re especially disappointed that the fixture is so soon and that players and staff may not be able to get two days off work needed to travel to the game.

“If a player is married, he’s had his family holiday, and if he’s single he’s been to Marbella – everyone is back for the football season.

“So to expect them to have two more days off work at such short notice is a tough ask.”

Fowler said: “We have to play this game no matter what, and I’ve asked the players to try and get the time off.

“At the moment, about eight say they can make it, but that could well change.

“It’s not a great situation. I firmly believe that Guernsey’s home games should be played at weekend, end of.”

Croydon Guardian:

Guernsey's home: Foote Lane

 

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