The FA last week handed down rigid restrictions to Isthmian League South club Guernsey FC, stating that they must play home replays in the FA Cup this year on the English mainland, and from their share of the gate receipts pay the travel expenses for the away team.
The Green Lions already make huge financial sacrifices to play non-league football. As part of the agreement for them to join the English footballing pyramid they agreed that they would pay for all away teams travel to Guernsey as well as their accommodation costs while visiting, along with their own travel expenses when playing their games in England.
The club have argued that the FA’s recent decision will make participation in the FA Cup difficult because any money they make from their share of the gate receipts will be spent on both their own and their opponents travel plans, and it may not be financially sustainable to take part.
If they do pull out of the competition it will be a huge shame because Guernsey FC have brought so much to non-league football and are achieving so much success. Since their creation in 2011 they have achieved double promotion, winning the Combined Counties Football League Division One in 2011/2012 and becoming runners up in the Combined Counties Football League Premier Division this season (as well as a semi-final appearance in the FA Vase).
At its inception it was decided that the club would be a registered charity and a non-profit organisation that will reinvest in order to secure its own future. Guernsey FC exists for the benefit of the local community and is run entirely by unpaid volunteers, an initiative that founders Steve Dewsnip and Mark Le Tissier were supported for by the FA initially.
It is because of this philosophy that they have decided not to hike up ticket prices for fans in order to fund a venture into the FA Cup, a way of saying thank you for the incredible support they have enjoyed for the past two years (they got a crowd of 4,290 for the FA Vase semi-final first leg against Spennymoor Town). Instead they are going to look into initiatives or sponsorship that will cover the estimated £10,000 needed for every round.
The whole situation leads many to question if the FA is really doing their job. The FA launched their Strategic Plan in 2011, which in Alex Horne’s words is “a plan to focus our work to ensure the FA upholds its responsibility to all of English football”. The second point of this plan states boldly: “Football for everyone”. What about FA Cup football for Guernsey FC?
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