Airbus UK Broughton Football Club

The Wingmakers - May 2010 Welsh Soccer News



May 29 - 15:30
How do you put a positive spin on Welsh Premier shambles?

LAST week’s Off The Fence (Super 12 will be far from super) prompted complaints from the FA of Wales and Newtown that the column was unduly negative.

However, even if it was the Daily Post’s role to function as the PR arm of the FAW and Welsh Premier League – as some mistakenly appear to believe – quite how would you put a positive spin on the shambolic Super 12?

Newtown’s criticism of the article, in particular, was ill-founded. The Latham Park side – who have failed to finish higher than 10th since the League of Wales became the Welsh Premier - have no need to apologise to anyone for being granted a reprieve by the FAW’s licensing panel. Unlike many of their rivals, they got their house in order in due time and have reaped the benefits.

However, had their secretary Owen Durbridge read the domestic licence criteria with the abandon he evidently paid to this column’s examination of the revamp then it is unlikely the mid-Wales outfit would have sneaked into next season’s competition through the back door in the manner they did.

In an open letter published on Newtown’s club website, Durbridge’s accused the Daily Post of suggesting the FAW should have bent the rules to allow Rhyl to stay in the Welsh Premier.

The article didn’t even hint at this, despite the secretary puzzlingly placing the words "bent the rules" in quotation marks. (Perhaps the phrase appeared in an issue of the Daily Post published in a parallel universe, one in which a club who finished 13th on goal difference was not part of a league calling itself the Super 12.)

Nor did it criticise the decision of the panel to deny Rhyl a licence on appeal. Given the lack of transparency of last week’s hearings it would be impossible to give a verdict.

Instead, I suggested that the whole process should have been far more flexible, with greater assistance provided to clubs to help them meet the standards set. Even then it was more the case of Cymru Alliance champions Llangefni I had in mind.

Whatever the FAW’s vision is for the future of this country’s game, it appears not to involve rewarding success on the field – which is where relegation and promotion should be decided, not in a Cardiff office.

The governing body claim to have done all they could to enable clubs to meet their criteria. The noises emanating from North Wales’ unsuccessful applicants suggests otherwise, though.

Llangefni’s failure to secure a licence and a place in the Super 12 represents a failure for the FAW.

The only way for the Islanders to generate the finances necessary to improve their ground in such a short space of time would be to play in the Super 12. But by imposing such draconian standards the administrators have created a glass ceiling at the summit of the Welsh Pyramid feeder leagues.

Such is the expense involved for many clubs to meet the domestic licence criteria, that unless they gain financial backing they are unlikely ever to taste top-flight football. That can only be unhealthy for Welsh football.

Similarly, the article did not accuse the FAW of southern bias – as Durbridge stated. Rather I commented that given the devastating impact the Super 12 has had on North Wales’ Welsh Premier representation and feeder leagues, one could understand why many in this region feel that way.

The Newtown secretary concluded by calling on the Post to support the Super 12. If by that he means, providing the same level of coverage to North Wales’ four remaining teams, then, yes, we will. The only difference will be with the likes of Rhyl now in the second tier, the profile of the Cymru will be advanced in our pages.

However, the Post would be found wanting in its responsibility to North Wales’ clubs and supporters if it did not question the failings of the process which has to the formation of the rebranded top flight.

The Super 12 was supposed to herald a new level of professional standards in Welsh football, but it has only served to expose the rank amateurism behind the scenes.

With just over two months before the resumption of action, the division has yet to decide on the nature of next season’s competition, let alone how many games it will be comprised of, meaning teams can’t even begin to plan their budgets for the next campaign.

Such matters should have been sorted at least a year in advance. Who knows why anyone believed reducing the league to 10 or 12 sides would improve the standard of football or make the league more attractive to supporters? One of the great strengths of the league was the variety of teams it possessed.

But if that is what the FAW and Welsh Premier wanted there should have been a gradual reduction down from 18 members over the course of two or three years. This would have lessened the impact on the feeder leagues - who unforgivably had no say on the matter - and allowed sides a more realistic deadline to work towards attaining their domestic licence.

Opposition to summer football – which would be the best solution to the problems faced by the league - has often centred on an unwillingness to break from tradition.

Surely, though, moving to a 44-game season will be a greater wrench.

And as Tomi Morgan noted, if clubs struggled to draw crowds this season, supporters are unlikely to be attracted by watching more games against the same teams. The world certainly doesn’t need four Haverfordwest v Newtown encounters a season.

The other options open the league are even less appealing. Splitting the division into two at the half-way stage is exactly the sort of faddy system that is destroying club rugby. What next, a play-off to win the title? Cheerleaders? American football-style names? The Bangor City Buccaneers, the Prestatyn Panthers.

Unless the FAW and Welsh Premier can quickly address the weaknesses of the Super 12, ambitious and well-supported sides like Rhyl and Bangor may start to believe their interests would be best served in the English pyramid.

Then the league really will be in trouble.
Daily Post

May 29 - 15:30
Greg Strong signs new contract as Rhyl FC player-manager.

GREG STRONG is to remain player-manager of Rhyl FC having signed a new three-year contract with the Lilywhites.

Although Rhyl have been relegated from the Welsh Premier League after failing to gain a domestic licence and look set to compete in the Cymru Alliance, Strong’s two years at Belle Vue as both a player and manager have been highly impressive.

In his first season as a player the former Bolton and Motherwell defender was part of the Lilies’ title-winning side.

He was promoted to player-boss at the start of last season and despite the club’s financial difficulties and the fact he lost the majority of the squad that had won the championship, Strong built a team good enough to finish sixth in the WPL, just four points off a Europa League place, and also reach the League Cup final.

“I’m delighted to be staying on as player-manager of the best club in Wales,” Strong said.

“The season never ends and already I’m busy preparing for the next one. I’m very excited about the future.”

Rhyl have also announced Dave Milner is stepping down as managing director to be replaced by Jamie Digwood, who was the club’s director of football in 2008/09 before taking a year away.

Milner said: “It is with mixed feelings that I have decided to step down as managing director. The past 10 years have been a golden period for Rhyl FC.

“Despite the trials and tribulations of this past season I truly believe that, if we all pull together both on and off the field, we can embark on another decade of success for the club.

“I am delighted to announce that Jamie will be returning to the club as managing director. His insight, experience and contacts in the game will serve us well.

“Both Jamie and I are delighted to announce that Greg Strong has agreed to re-commit to the club on a three-year contract as player/manager.

“Greg has been an outstanding player and manager for Rhyl FC. His commitment to the club this past season has been exceptional.

Daily Post


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