Kettering Town, a professional club who play in National League North – the sixth tier of English football – will provide Bulls with their first competitive action since March 2020 when they travel to Springfield on 17 July, with officials hopeful of being able to welcome fans into the stadium.
The pre-season friendly was due to played last summer before Covid-19 restrictions forced a cancellation.
Speaking in the wake of a second consecutive cancelled season – following just four outings for Bulls in September – club director Ian Horswell said: ‘What helps us as a football club is the season has been curtailed and we can focus on next season. We’ve got lots of exciting things happening next season which we’re looking to reveal soon.
‘We’ve got a pre-season fixture lined up to play Kettering Town and we’re now waiting for government guidance to see what else we can do as we want to attack next season. If we can get a good pre-season programme and get off to a good start, then bring it on.’
Meanwhile, the Bulls are also awaiting news on whether the long-mooted restructure of the non-league pyramid will come to pass – potentially offering the Islanders promotion to the ninth tier.
Changes to Steps 4 and 6 of the National League ladder would lead to 63 spaces in the divisions above Bulls becoming available, including 21 in Step 4 and 42 in Step 5. And, with two regional premier divisions in the Combined Counties Football League potentially being created, many of the spaces would be filled by clubs in the Bulls’ league.
A move up would also allow Gary Freeman’s men to enter the FA Cup, something a club from Jersey has never done before.
‘We’ve got some hope,’ Horswell added. ‘It’s not 100% that they will do it but there is a chance. They’ve not issued any timelines and we don’t know what the criteria is for being moved up.
‘We don’t know if it will be an application process like it has been in the women’s game in the past, or if they will just assign clubs the opportunity to move up. But rest assured, if it is an application process we will apply. We’ll certainly be raising our hands and say “played 31 games in the league and won 31”. I don’t think there is anybody in the UK who says that we don’t deserve a promotion.
‘If we do get an upward movement we would get to play a host of new clubs that we haven’t met before. We would be playing at a higher level which will give more of a challenge to our players. Step 5 will also guarantee us FA Cup football next season. That would be huge boost, not just for our players and supporters but for our sponsors, our committee, everyone involved in the club, for Jersey as an Island. We’ve never hosted an FA Cup game here ever before.’