“FAW has a responsibility to help keep struggling Cymru Premier clubs afloat”

Caernarfon Town chairman Paul Evans

Caernarfon Town chairman Paul Evans believes the FAW runs the risk of losing its national league unless it gives more financial help to struggling clubs.

With fans not allowed to attend Cymru Premier matches so far this season due to Covid-19, the Canaries, the best supported club in the league, have been hit hardest in the coffers with no gate income or other customer spending at games.

The FAW are hoping a financial bail-out package of £1m from FIFA will help top-flight clubs feeling the pinch, but that is unlikely to be enough to save the day with so many at risk.

FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford has admitted the game in Wales is battling a “dire situation” because of Covid-19.

Ford says the FAW is facing a “massive” financial loss because of the pandemic and wants the Welsh Government to ease the situation by allowing supporters to return.

Caernarfon chairman Evans believes the FAW also has to take responsibility for these tough times facing clubs.

“I can’t speak for the other clubs, but playing behind closed doors is financially crippling Caernarfon Town Football Club,” he said.

“When we had the Cymru Premier League AGM in August and were told that the season would begin on September 12 behind closed doors, I made it very clear that we as a club would find it impossible to survive for more than two or possibly three months unless spectators were allowed into The Oval.

“At the time, I suggested that the FAW wait until we could open our turnstiles for matches before starting the new season.

“Rather disappointingly I received no support from other clubs and the only response was from a senior figure at the FAW who told me that the pandemic is not their fault and that we as a club should reduce our budget, which we had already done, substantially.

“The indication at the time was that spectators would be able to attend fixtures from matchday three onwards but, of course, this has not happened.

“I know that this was said in good faith by the FAW but, nevertheless, it was their decision to start the league in September, and the clubs really had no choice but to comply.

“Every club is affected but as the league’s best supported team, who enjoyed an average home attendance of 650 last season, we’re being hit harder than everyone.

“Not only are we missing out on income of £3,000 every time we play at The Oval, but we also have wages to pay, and so effectively each home fixture is costing us around £5,500. Having already played three home matches, it’s not hard to see where we are heading with this.”

Evans added: “I acknowledge that every Cymru Premier League club has had a grant of £20,000 through the Football Foundation towards returning to play but the additional costs of complying with Covid regulations means that a lot of this is quite rightly being used to ensure everyone’s safety at the ground.

“My opinion is that it was the FAW’s decision to start the league in September when they had no guarantees about supporters being allowed back into grounds.

“As such, they were knowingly putting clubs at huge financial risk and therefore should now take responsibility for their actions.

“They have told us all to raise as much money as we can to finish off the season, and have suggested local fund raising and crowdfunding, and renegotiating players wages.

“We are of course looking at every avenue but I believe the FAW has a responsibility to help clubs financially to ensure that we play at least enough matches to enable the season to conclude, which this season should be at the end of Phase One.

“What I can promise our stakeholders is that the Board, management, players and a special band of supporters are all doing our very best to survive a situation that has been forced upon us.

“Caernarfon Town Football Club may not have rich benefactors and European prize money to fall back on and we will do everything we can to survive the season, but the FAW need to assist us and every other club in the league.”

Can the Barnett formula help the Cymru Premier ?

The chairman also stressed CPL clubs are far from taking the current situation lying down.

He said: “The National League has recently confirmed significant grant support from the UK Government for loss of revenue due to having no supporters at matches and Cymru Premier clubs are now urging the Welsh Government to pursue the Barnett formula so that we receive a proportionate amount of the money.

“We will all be approaching our local MP’s to fight our case with this.”

The Barnett formula is a mechanism used by the Treasury in the United Kingdom to automatically adjust the amounts of public expenditure allocated to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to reflect changes in spending levels allocated to public services in England, England and Wales or Great Britain, as appropriate.

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