Yesterday’s restructure of the Ladies game in Wales has been met with much criticism from teams and players alike and rightly so because it stems from the FAW deciding that a fourth placed team in a league can be relegated but the side that finishes bottom can stay up.
The FAW can dress this decision up whichever way that they choose but it will never seem right to the average football fan. Their announcement yesterday said
“The re-structure was implemented following a full review of the pyramid in 2020, which included consultation with clubs, players, leagues and officials at all levels. The outcome highlighted key changes required in the top two tiers of the pyramid whilst also addressing the significant gap between U16s and senior football.
“The new pyramid structure includes eight teams in Tier 1 and the introduction of a new regional Tier 2 league in the North and South, also with eight in each league and a new U19s league in north and south Wales.
“To determine which clubs would take their place in these new leagues, the FAW oversaw an open application process that involved two stages. The first was the initial licence award where clubs provided evidence to show that they met the minimum criteria for each level.
“Successful Clubs progressed to Phase 2, presenting their club development plan to a panel of FAW, FAW Trust and FIFA experts who assessed clubs across seven key areas; three of these were ‘core’, awarding double marks for Sporting (factoring in previous performance in the League), Financial Sustainability and Human Resources. “
It is interesting to read through this which effectively says that performance on the pitch was just 20% of the total marks available and was ranked as strongly as Human Resources and Financial Sustainability. The latter of those is clearly important to ensure the integrity of any league but surely somewhere along the line performance of an existing team on the pitch should be a much bigger factor then just 20% of a decision making process.
We heard from Mali Summers, who plays for Abergavenny (finished fourth in the league and now a tier 2 side) – her comments are below and this will strike a chord with anyone – TNS and Barry (with no disrespect to either) have been given a place in the top tier having never played in the WPWL before. This simply cannot be right.
I agree! If you want a competitive league, how can you demote a side that finishes fourth? FAW should be supporting established clubs, not giving free passes to TNS and Barry to come into the league just based off their men’s performances, both have never been in the WPWL before!
— Mali Summers (@MaliSummers1) June 1, 2021
Abergavenny summed it up themselves in their club statement on Monday when they said “Abergavenny have statistically been the fourth most successful club in the competition’s history.
“This season, even with all the stress and unjustified decisions of the last month, we finished fourth. We believe this should automatically cement our place in the upcoming top tier of Welsh football, Unfortunately, the FAW do not agree.
“We passed the FAW tier one license application, a process that was levied at the clubs during a pandemic.”
Incredibly, the FAW have elected to withhold the scoring matrix from the clubs which will only increase the lack of transparency and accusations of favouritism and bias which is now rife amongst social media and no doubt the FAW will be hoping that this story goes away quite quickly.
Welcome to the welsh super league where a PowerPoint presentation determines who joins the league. The ladies will release a statement in due course but this is absolutely farcical .
You earn the right to stay there, pass criteria but TNS & Barry get there because of who they are https://t.co/S7nXocOUIk
— Abergavenny Town FC (@AbergavennyTFC) May 31, 2021
And this decision was made almost a month ago but embargoed so no disruption to the league. What about the 3 who were shat on by the faw? They had to finish their seasons knowing the games meant nothing . https://t.co/S7nXocOUIk
— Abergavenny Town FC (@AbergavennyTFC) May 31, 2021
Rightly, Abergavenny have been highly critical as a club of the decision and will continue to do so. It seems that their competition on the pitch has led to nothing in terms of taking the view as to where they should be placed next season and you do wonder if there are other factors at play here that are hiding the transparency and general wrongs of the decisions being made.
The below video from Women’s Football Today is very worth watching as they have representatives from each of the three “demoted” clubs who share their views.
Maybe we have a very simplistic view on football but it is about success on the pitch. Sure, other things are important to the success of a club including long term plans and sustainability but if you are the 4th best team in a league how can you possibly be relegated/demoted by a decision taken in the corridors of power, particularly when you have satisfied all the tests you have been asked to satisfy.
It is not just about Abergavenny, Britton Ferry and Cascade are both wronged by this decision. That means that players who have worked hard for their results on the pitch are now denied further tests against the likes of Swansea Ladies who of course won the league and cup double. Like all players they want to test themselves against the strongest teams but that chance has been taken away by a bizarre decision taken by those who do not seem to have a clue as to what is right and wrong.
Football fans should all stand united with those teams wronged by the FAW with this decision and ensure that the publicity is spread wide.
The FAW get it wrong again, why are we not surprised?