So, the situation regarding North Wales reserve football leagues this coming season is falling into place.
We have an FAW Reserve League North East and an FAW Reserve League North West spanning tiers 1 to 3.
And we have a North East Wales Reserve League catering for tiers 4 and 5.
What we do not yet have is a North Wales Coast Reserve League for tier 4 and 5 clubs – and that is concerning.
There is definite interest in a coast reserve league. Around a dozen clubs are believed to be anxiously awaiting news on whether there will be a league to house their second teams in the season ahead.
If there is not, then scores of talented young players, as well as more experienced campaigners seeking a game at a lower level, are going to be struggling for action in 2020-21.
At present, it looks like the chances of a NWCFA Reserve League being formed appear slim.
Why? There is already a shortage of referees on the North Wales coast. The amount of regular appeals on social media for prospective new ones to come forward is proof of that.
With match officials required for not only first team games in the top three tiers this season, but now also two sets of reserve divisions, tiers 4 and 5 are already facing a potential chronic lack of refs.
Having reserve matches on top of first team games in the lower tiers will only exacerbate the situation.
There is already talk of tiers 4 and 5 fixtures being switched to a Sunday to free up officials. Sounds like a plan.
The NWCFA have been accused of dragging their heels over the reserve league issue.
It is not easy for the association, who can only work with the match officials they have available. It would be irresponsible to commit to something without knowing if the resources are there.
The Coast have expressed concern over travelling distances facing reserve sides, but most will have been used to this in the former Welsh Alliance.
The interest is there, let it happen……
Of course, there is also a possible knock-on effect for the North Wales Women’s League, if Sunday officials are taken up for men’s matches. Nothing is ever easy…….
Women’s football really could do without seemingly always being bottom of the list of priorities.
Is there scope to set up a referees’ list just for women’s football in North Wales? More volunteers might come forward…..
Even before Covid-19 cast its evil spell last season, the women’s game was having a nightmare of a time.
Bad weekend weather often meant ladies’ matches having no chance of being played on a Sunday if a men’s game had taken place on the same pitch the day before.
And the cost of using leisure centre 3G pitches on a Sunday was far too high for most women’s teams, who would not have to just pay for pitch hire, but also foot the bill for hiring of sports centre staff to be on duty.
It must also be said the commitment of some teams had to be questioned; pulling out of fixtures for no apparent reason or being unable to raise a side happened too often.
If you want to be treated more professionally then act more professionally. No punishments were dished out, despite assurances things would get tougher.
Even without Covid-19, there is a chance some women’s teams would not have finished last season.
By the time March 8 arrived (the final weekend of the season), some sides had only played 4 or 5 league games – a ridiculous situation.
Already this summer, there has been a lack of women’s teams committing themselves to a league.
Some players I have spoken to have not got a clue what is going on, in fact they ask me for the latest news, when it is really the leagues who should be keeping the clubs updated.
For now, although many parts of the jigsaw are in place for North Wales football, we still await news on: 1) how the NWCFA tiers 4 and 5 leagues are going to operate, with the outcome of two club appeals over division allocation in abeyance; 2) if there will be a NWCFA reserve league and 3) how women’s football will eventually set up for its ‘transition season’ before a pyramid system begins in 2021-22.
Decisive action is needed sooner rather than later.
Otherwise, when we eventually get start dates for the 2020-21 season, there’s a danger some leagues or clubs won’t even be ready to meet them…..