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BFA turns back on National Stadium

Devonshire Colts will be sharing Police Field with Boulevard and the Bermuda Rugby Association this season

The Dudley Eve Trophy and Friendship Trophy finals will be held at club grounds rather than the National Sports Centre this season.

The recommendation to shift the games to club venues was made to the Bermuda Football Association by the Presidents’ Association, which is keen for the clubs to benefit from the revenue generated by both matches.

The Dudley Eve Trophy final will be played on November 11 at Wellington Oval, while Somerset Cricket Club will host the Friendship Trophy and Second Division Shield finals on New Year’s Day.

Ray Jones, the Devonshire Colts president, who is also the spokesman for the Presidents’ Association, which is made up of the presidents of the 20 teams that make up the Premier Division and First Division, also said the hefty costs of hosting games at the NSC had been a factor.

“At the [BFA] semi-annual meeting in January, after we had already met as club presidents, we put forward as a motion to move all cup finals back to club grounds besides the FA Cup, which will still be played at the stadium,” Jones said.

“It was unanimous. The reason being so that the clubs can benefit from some of the revenue generated and it’s also cost-prohibitive for the BFA to host the matches at the National Stadium.”

The Dudley Eve Trophy replaced the Martonmere Cup, which was axed as a leading competition in 2009, with the Friendship Trophy and Shield competitions switched so their finals are played on New Year’s Day.

Jones pointed out that when the Dudley Eve Trophy competition was held over Christmas it proved to be a big revenue earner for the clubs that hosted the matches.

“The Dudley Eve never used to be played at National Stadium,” he said. “It was always played Christmastime at a club.

“From a club perspective, under the old format, that was probably the biggest prize money that the clubs received from all the competitions.”

The size of the crowds for cup finals at the National Stadium have declined over the years, while there is arguably a better atmosphere at club grounds.

“There is going to be some criteria as to who is going to host the finals and the BFA have put together that criteria,” Jones said. “That should help to still create a festive atmosphere, so I don’t think playing at the club grounds will be too much of a difference.

“Friendship and Shield matches used to be traditionally night games, so the same clubs would receive the revenue for that because it was at a night field, but they [BFA] were thinking outside the box and made that the Christmas tournament. Clubs have players away in school who can participate in it and it has worked out quite well.”

Jones’s Colts will mark their return to the Premier Division when they meet Hamilton Parish at Wellington Oval on September 27. Colts have picked up former player McQuinn Burch from Southampton Rangers, where he was captain last season.

“We are sticking to the basis of what we have been building for four years, which is developing players within,” Jones said. “In the transfer market, we were relatively quiet compared to other clubs, but that was by design.

“Burch played all his football at Colts before he transferred to Rangers, so we consider him one of us.

“We think sustainability is building within and this season will be our first having a full complement of youth teams.

Last year, we were missing in the under-16s, but this year we’ll have them on board so we will be offering football from three-year-olds right through to senior football.

Colts will again share Police Field with the other promoted side, Boulevard, while the Bermuda Rugby Football Union will use the venue for its youth matches and Beyond Rugby Programme after previously playing at the North Field.