On the eve of the 2019-20 season North Wales football is being reduced to a shambles
Bangor City (blue) and Holywell Town in action last season

The start of a new season for North Wales related men’s football leagues is just days away and no doubt many clubs and supporters are filled with excitement.

But for some the big-kick off has already conceded a disastrous own goal.

Yesterday’s news of the Football Association of Wales suspending not only Bangor City, but also an entirely blameless Holywell Town and Llandyrnog United has seriously blighted the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign.

The national governing body’s officers committee invoked Rule 35, which states “the FAW can suspend competitive action at any club or ground – it can also extend or shorten the season where necessary.”

The decision from Cardiff relates to the upcoming arbitration hearing of Bangor City Football Club versus the FAW.

The crisis-hit Nantporth club is appealing the FAW’s decision to deduct 21 points for breaching league rules last season, including fielding ineligible players. The original punishment was 42 points, but this was halved on appeal, ensuring City avoided relegation from the Huws Gray Alliance on goal difference, at the expense of Holywell.

News has since emerged that Bangor could be facing punishment for further rule breaches.

Meanwhile, an independent arbitration hearing against the 21-point penalty has been scheduled for Friday, August 16.

The FAW confirmed yesterday that Bangor City’s opening JD Cymru North league fixture at home to Colwyn Bay – due to be played the following day – has been postponed until a later date.

City’s first round tie in the Nathaniel MG Cup, against Conwy Borough, was also postponed last Saturday, pending the outcome of the arbitration hearing.

In a statement, Bangor City confirmed it was suspended from all association football activity with immediate effect, but added they were still preparing for the new season.

The FAW said yesterday’s decision also affected both Holywell Town and Welsh Alliance club Llandyrnog United – with both clubs potentially facing last-minute promotion and relegation if City lose their appeal.

An FAW spokesperson said: “Using its plenary powers to make emergency decisions…the committee have implemented FAW Rule 35 against three clubs, Bangor City, Holywell Town and Llandyrnog with immediate effect and up to a maximum of seven calendar days after the judgement of the arbitration hearing, in order to protect the sporting integrity of the competitions that these three clubs are scheduled to participate in.
”The FAW will be making no further comments at this stage.”

In June, the FAW halved the aforementioned 42-point deduction against City, but the club was fined £700 after being found guilty on seven charges. They remain under a transfer embargo until the end of the year.

But following their initial appeal, the club said they intended to take the case of the Court of Arbitration of Sport in an attempt to clear their name.

Despite recent catastrophes, Bangor City remain in name one of the biggest clubs in Welsh football, but many North Wales football fans took to social media yesterday complaining it is unfair that due to City’s issues, Holywell and Llandyrnog are having their preparations for the new season disrupted.

Llandyrnog issued the following response on social media…

The saga continues…with the disappointing and frustrating news we have learned of last night it appears we have had our season and league start date suspended until the outcome of Bangor FC’s hearing.
This news has come as a real shock especially only 5 days before the start of the season and for us to be dragged into someone else’s mess through no fault of our own is frustrating to say the least.
After hearing we have been successful in obtaining planning permission on our potential new ground last week, we as a club felt we were heading in the right direction and with a new manager and management team in place and rebuilding a squad over the last few months we have been quietly going about our business but last night’s news has thrown a real spanner in the works.
Where we go from here we don’t yet know, with no correspondence from the FAW leading us to find out on social media it appears our fate is in their hands.

Holywell released a shorter statement:

Holywell Town FC were this afternoon informed of a decision by the FAW Officer’s Committee to suspend the club’s fixtures until the outcome of Bangor City’s long drawn out disciplinary case relating to points deduction for the appearance of ineligible players is known.
Welsh Alliance club Llandyrnog United’s and Bangor City’s fixtures are also affected.
The final hearing of the process will take place on Friday 16th August.
Holywell Town FC have sought to clarify some points that are not clear in the communication, and will provide updates when available
.

Days before the start of a new campaign, the Wellmen and Dyrny do not know what league they will play in. And the situation has affected Conwy Borough and Colwyn Bay’s schedule too.

The question is, why has the FAW taken so long to deal with this?

Was it not an urgent priority to get this rebranded tier two league off to an efficient start?

Sadly for the Cardiff hype machine, as well as many others, the all-new, happy-clapping, super-league mark 2 will not launch as we’d hoped because two of its biggest draws are not allowed to play.

The crux of the crisis stems from Bangor City, a den of doom ever since the new owners’ first season at the helm ended with the club being demoted from the top flight for the first time.

This was despite finishing second in the Welsh Premier and qualifying for Europe, with the failure to secure the necessary Tier 1 and Uefa licences costing the club dearly.

Since then problems way too numerous to mention have brought this proud club down to such an extent that the majority of the once unrivaled fan base now follow a brand-new club in the city, born from the frustration of disillusioned City supporters.

Bangor City’s issues are no longer just affecting them, they are now disrupting other clubs.

And if the club do win their appeal then they need to get their act together seriously quickly for the sake of North Wales football.

And so do the Welsh FA.

Women’s football on the rocks

The situation regarding women’s football in North Wales remains as clear as mud.

Still, as we approach the end of the first week in August, the North Wales League Division One champions of 2018-19 remain uncrowned. Still, an appeal over a Division Two matter has made promotion issues there uncertain. Why? Apparent delays in decisions from the FAW.

We still await news on whether a new NWCFA women’s league will be formed – and if it is, what will happen to the teams in the NEWFA area and Central Wales?

One month before the season starts and we haven’t a clue who plays where, who will actually play and who – most distressingly of all – might end up NOT playing.

The only northern club clear on what is coming up are Llandudno, now the sole North Wales representatives in the national (well just about) Welsh Premier Women’s League, following the resignation of Rhyl last week.

Women’s football in North Wales is in a mess and it needs taking in hand urgently. We are producing so many good young players – they will need clubs they can join in a properly-run league, or we run the risk of losing them, something which is already happening far too much anyway.

And the men’s game is not too healthy either, certainly in light of yesterday’s news.

Just like the UK, in the grip of the most unstable political environment in memory, North Wales football needs some stability – and fast.

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