JS Fives, a company owned by ex-muratti footballer and Parishes of Jersey FC manager James Scott, wanted to invest and build an exciting new 3G 5-a-side football facility on a currently unused public sports facility at FB Fields.
It had the backing of many current and past players, with this sort of facility seriously needed right here in Jersey. However, this is now looking unlikely to materialise due to an unknown covenant on the land dating back to 1961.
Scott said “I’ve been working hard behind the scenes for the last couple of years to make my idea become a reality and it was looking really positive. However, after receiving an email last week from Jersey Property Holdings, who are the landlords of the public site, making me aware of a covenant on the land that they themselves knew nothing about until very recently.’
‘To be honest if I was to say that I’m very disappointed then that would be an understatement. I’m actually hugely frustrated. I truly believe the island is in desperate need of such a facility, especially on the east of the island.”
The current facility, which is situated on the east of the FB Fields sports complex behind the viewing area of the athletics track currently consists of two outdoor netball courts, floodlights, changing rooms and toilets. These are all largely unused too.
Scott believed with “a little bit more investment the site would be perfect” due to already having all the appropriate amenities needed to make it a thriving sports facility once again.
The facility was heavily invested and improved back in 2014 when it was re-surfaced and new floodlights installed. Scott says “I don’t believe the facility has been used since this work took place. Not once, which must of cost a considerable amount of public money. I don’t even think the floodlights have been switched on since they were installed over six years ago. Any public sports facility on the island that is not being used to its full potential should be addressed in my view, even if this is via a private investor. Especially in a time where everybody knows how sport, especially football as the most played sport on the island, can massively improve a person’s physical and mental well-being.”
Scott also explained, ‘there has been an huge increase in small sided social football on the mainland and across Europe and my facility would have helped the local football community be part of this increasing trend, whilst playing a sport they all thoroughly enjoy.’
‘I had plans for it to be used by players ranging from minis boys and girls age groups (ages 5-11) all the way up to introducing a new Over 40s league and even offering walking football to the older generation who would still love to have the ball at their feet. I really wanted to create a real community buzz and it’s a real shame that I’ve not been given the opportunity to make it happen, especially within the ever increasing and densely populated housing area surrounding FB Fields.”
Scott continued, “Jersey Property Holdings who signed off permission for it to go through the planning process have now back tracked by stating to him ‘that the public could not be party to a lease and an arrangement that it knows is in breach of existing restrictive covenants that were put in place at the time the site was gifted to the public in 1961’. Something he challenged by saying “we are not being very grateful of this kind gift if it is not being used by the public themselves. From what I have been sent I honestly don’t believe I will be in breach of the covenant but there are others that think differently which is a real shame. If I was told about it at the very beginning, then I probably wouldn’t have pursued it as an option.”
There have been some objections by residents who are in close proximity of the site, mainly with noise concerns, but there have also been over 70 public supportive comments submitted to the online planning application which highlights the need for such a facility.
These supporting comments included Senator Steve Pallett, who holds the responsibility for sport in Jersey. He stated “it’s important that a wide range of sports facilities are provided in the island and that we make best use of all the sports facilities with the Government sports facilities portfolio. Government previously invested into this site to provide netball courts but due to netball transferring the majority of their programmes indoors, the site is now underutilised. I am fully supportive of JS Fives using the facility for 5-a-side football.”
Another key figure showing support is David Kennedy (CEO, Jersey FA) who highlighted that “the trend in local football participation has changed significantly over the last 5 years with more juniors and adult players now deciding to opt for the small sided recreational game. This trend was reflected in the recent local football review and will feature significantly in the new JFA strategy next year. As a result, I would endorse this application on behalf of the Jersey Football Association. “
Scott continued “it’s just a real shame, especially with the new Inspiring an Active Jersey Government initiative led by Jersey Sport. Everything was set and in place to get the facility built for this summer if it got the green light from planning. I honestly believe JS Fives could have played a vital part in helping Jersey Sport reach their target of making the public 10% more active by 2030.”
And finally concluded, “I can only apologise for getting the football community excited about the prospect of a new and much needed football facility. I can hand on heart say I tried my utmost to make it happen but unless there is a complete U-turn from the powers that be then it’s looking unlikely. I’ll keep my ears and eyes open and I’d really appreciate anybody getting in touch with me if they know of any other potential sites where I could possibly get the new 5-a-side football facility.’
There is no doubt that James Scott has worked his socks off over the past few years for this new, exciting development to happen. All for nothing. It is very disappointing to see.
If you know of anywhere Scott could build this new facility, get in contact with him!