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Cross-party Senedd members condemn FA Wales women’s teams relegation

08 Jun 2021 3 minute read
Abergavenny WFC protesting the FAW’s decision to demote the club from the top flight.

A group of members from all of the political parties represented in the Senedd have condemned the Football Association of Wales (FAW’s) decision to relegate three teams from the Welsh Premier Women’s League (WPWL), despite the fact that none of those teams finished in the relegation position.

A new structure, which follows a review by the FAW, reduces the number of teams in the WPWL from nine to eight. The three relegated teams, Abergavenny Women FC, Cascade Ladies YC and Briton Ferry Llansawel Ladies FC, will now all play in a new Tier 2 division.

Three teams, Abersytwyth Town, Barry Town United and The New Saints will play in the new Tier 1 league. Aberystwyth Town finished in the relegation spot but will not be demoted and Barry Town and The New Saints (TNS) will be new to the league without gaining promotion on the pitch. Indeed, it is understood that TNS disbanded their women’s team last season and that they and Barry Town are now seeking players.

Three MSs raised their concerns with the Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths MS in the Senedd Siambr yesterday. Laura Anne Jones MS (Conservative, South Wales East), Delyth Jewell MS (Plaid Cymru, South Wales East) and Hefin David MS (Labour, Caerphilly) jointly asked that the Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden MS provide a statement of the Government’s position.

The three members pointed to the fact that the Welsh Government provides public funding to grassroots sport in Wales and that the governmental body Sport Wales also supports the development of football. They said that as a result, the Welsh Government was duty bound to hold the FAW to account on their restructuring decision, which lacked transparency.

‘Deeply concerned’

Responding for the Government, Lesley Griffiths MS said she would “commit the Deputy Minister to make a statement” once she had received a full briefing from officials and added that, “you only have to look on social media to see how much upset and distress this [reorganisation] has caused’”

In addition, Laura Jones MS, Delyth Jewell MS and Hefin David MS, together with Peter Fox MS (Con, Monmouth), David Rees (Lab, Aberavon), Sioned Williams MS, Luke Fletcher MS (both Plaid, South Wales West), Tom Giffard (Con, South Wales West), Jane Dodds (Lib Dem, Mid and West Wales) and Peredur Owen Griffiths (Plaid, South Wales East) issued the following joint statement:

“We support women’s club football in Wales and the Wales women’s national football team, as important elements of the Welsh sporting identity.,” they said.

“We recognise the role that football clubs play in their respective local communities, from grassroots level upward. We are deeply concerned with the way in which the Football Association of Wales (FAW) made and subsequently communicated its recent decision to restructure the Welsh Premier Women’s League (WPWL) for the 2021-22 season.

“We believe that any such decisions should be based on sporting merit and made in a fair, open and transparent way with the reasoning made clear to clubs at the earliest opportunity.

“As such, we call on the FAW to ensure full transparency and to reverse their decision with regard to teams relegated from the WPWL.”

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