The recent actions of the FAW has led many fans to question whether they are acting in the best interests of the sport in the country
The image of Welsh football has been severely damaged this season due to the respective fates of Barry Town and Llanelli AFC, and the Football Association of Wales’ reaction to the on-going sagas at both clubs. It has led to resignations from the governing body and confidence in them as custodians of the sport has plummeted.
Barry Town were pulled out of the Welsh League Division One this season when their owner Stuart Lovering grew tired of the difficulties trying to sell the club, a deadly blow at the end of a controversial ten year period in charge when his relationship with the fans was fraught.
Llanelli AFC fans have also had to witness the demise of their club when the Reds were wound up by the High Courts because of a £21,000 tax debt.
Supporters of both Barry Town and Llanelli have created phoenix clubs in the form of Barry Town United AFC and AFC Llanelli and had hoped to bring a case to the FAW, asking to be reinstated into the Welsh football pyramid rather than start at park level.
An emergency meeting of the FAW Council was called at Caersws last week and 29 members were asked to vote on whether the cases of both clubs would be heard, but they were unable to get the two-third majority needed to have the issue addressed.
The Welsh FA Council has embarrassed itself by not even allowing fans a chance to air their views. In the case of Barry Town, it pays no respect to the supporters who have run the club voluntarily since 2011. They are the people that the FAW needs to keep on side if it really does want to support the advancement of football in the country.
In 2012 the FAW published its strategy for the advancement of the sport and two of their aims will make Barry Town and Llanelli fans laugh as their most recent action doesn’t uphold either goal.
They said that they were looking to “help advance all Welsh football” and “improve the image and perception of the Association across Wales”.
By abandoning two clubs that have been around for over 100 years, and stripping two major towns in the country of weekly football, they have hardly upheld their promises from last year.
The Welsh football pyramid is hardly thriving, with low attendances and financial issues at many clubs, so why wouldn’t they want to help the phoenix clubs which are going to be run on a voluntary basis and have huge appeal in their local communities? It is hardly the “forward thinking” attitude they brag about in their publication from last year.
The aftermath of the meeting in Caersws has led to Andrew Edwards, the Welsh Premier League representative at the Council, to resign and made FAW President Trefor Lloyd Hughes consider his position. Both are clearly embarrassed by the episode and no longer want to be associated with an organisation that works in this way.
As Barry Town United AFC seek legal action against the Football Association of Wales, and the life members of the FAW Council come under scrutiny, this miserable episode looks to drag on and with it drag Welsh football through the mud.
image: © joncandy