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Stark warning from Cofis chairman at league AGM

Paul Evans (right) with Caernarfon Town manager Huw Griffiths

Caernarfon Town chairman Paul Evans pointed out to Cymru Premier League chiefs last night that some clubs could fold if they are forced to play behind closed doors or in front of reduced attendances when football returns.

Mr Evans told the league’s AGM that Caernarfon are reliant on gate income and will struggle financially if they cannot allow supporters into The Oval or have restricted numbers inside the ground due to social distancing.

He strongly believes the governing body should offer a compensation package for clubs likely to be badly hit.

The league was expected to give representatives of its 12 clubs an update on when football can restart after a break of almost five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Caernarfon attract more than double the average crowd of almost every club in the national league.

Speaking last week to Grassroots North Wales, Mr Evans said: “The main priority is that we start the season when it is safe to do so, for all the players, management, spectators and volunteers.

“No-one wants to start the new campaign more than us as we are extremely excited at the prospect of seeing (manager) Huw (Griffiths) pushing the team forward with a mixture of familiar faces and plenty of new additions to his squad.

“However, we are worried at the prospect of returning to action either behind closed doors or in front of reduced attendances due to social distancing.

“I don’t deny that the powers that be at the FAW have a very difficult decision to make, but would remind them that all 12 clubs in the CPL are not on a level playing field.”

The chairman added: “I can imagine that some clubs will be happy to start the new season playing matches behind closed doors. These will be the clubs who have rich benefactors, will soon be receiving European prize money or have 3/4G pitches they rely on for income.

“They can obviously afford to play with no spectators or just a handful and in fact some of these very clubs have already been doing this for a number of years, so it won’t really make much difference to them.

“The problem for clubs such as ours is that we rely on two streams of income to survive – sponsorship and gate receipts. Making us play in front of a limited amount of spectators at The Oval will take away potentially half our projected income for the season, and so it is pretty obvious how badly this would impact us.

“Where most clubs in the top tier often get crowds of less than 200, we regularly enjoy attendances of over 700 and even 1,000 and so the issue is clear.

“In our opinion, if the FAW wish to start the campaign whilst the pandemic remains, we hope they offer compensation packages to clubs who rely on gate receipts to survive.

“Telling teams to play without letting everyone into grounds is effectively forcing a loss of earnings upon clubs, which we believe is extremely unfair, and dangerous to the future of many clubs in Wales.

“We are not just thinking of Caernarfon Town Football Club in this instance as clubs in lower leagues rely heavily on match day income, so we would expect the FAW will look at the bigger picture when deciding when and how they wish to start the new season.”

Cymru Premier average attendances 2019-20

1 Caernarfon Town 645
2 Barry Town United 423
3 Aberystwyth Town 317
4 Airbus UK Broughton 292
5 The New Saints 291
6 Connah’s Quay Nomads 290
7 Cefn Druids 273
8 Carmarthen Town 272
9 Newtown 270
10 Bala Town 268
11 Penybont 255
12 Cardiff Metropolitan University 235
Average attendance for 2019-20 – 319 (down 7.54% on 2018-19)

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