ST John’s United have made a sensational bid to represent the Isle of Man at this summer’s NatWest Island Games in Bermuda.
The ambitious Mullen-e-Cloie outfit have offered to send a 20-man party to July’s Games in the North Atlantic after the Isle of Man FA decided against entering a men’s or women’s team because of the high cost, which is estimated at more than £2,500 a head.
The westerners’ plan to fill the void with its own players has received approval in principal from the Games organisers and the Isle of Man Island Games Association.
United, who currently sit second in the Canada Life Premier League, now only require the greenlight from the Isle of Man FA to make the trans-Atlantic trip a reality.
A decision on this is likely to be made at the FA’s next council meeting on Tuesday evening when the island’s 26 clubs will get their chance to vote on the subject.
A club source said: ‘After the club’s bid to take part in the FA Vase was refused, we began looking at different avenues we could pursue.
‘The club has the funds in place thanks to our hard-working committee and the monies raised through the TT campsite and Astroturf rental so we contacted the Games’ organising committee and the IoMIGA who both gave their backing provided we get approval from the IoMFA.
‘That’s as far as we’ve got, but the flights and accommodation are all provisionally booked meaning we’re all set if we get the thumbs up.’
The plan is the brain-child of experienced island international and Saints’ player-manager Nick Hurt: ‘We’re always looking to improve our players and this competition provides us with the opportunity to do that as we try and drive the club forward and realise our long-term aim of entering a side in the English leagues.
‘I’ve played in several Island Games and it’s a fantastic experience and one that would really benefit our younger players.’
Football, like the rest of the sports at the 15th’s running of the Games, is suffering from low competitor numbers because of the high cost of traveling to the island. Indeed team entries significantly down on the 16 that usually take part. At the moment just four have entered, FIFA-ranked hosts Bermuda, Greenland, the Falklands and Norwegian island Frøya.
Hurt added: ‘We’re realistic that if we do go that we’ll be the underdogs, but we ran St George’s close in the Railway Cup final and that is pretty much the current island side so why can’t we turn over the likes of the Falklands?’
The Johnners’ preparations, including naming the squad, will step up if they are given the go ahead next week, Hurt adding: ‘If the FA say no they’ll have to give a very good reason why after all, all we’re trying to do is promote the island and our club and do the best by the Games.’