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All the best Ben – if things don’t change you won’t be the last….

Ben Heath. Picture: Penycae FC

Penycae’s departing manager Ben Heath has cited weak leadership from the FA of Wales and Welsh Government as chief reasons behind his decision to step down.

Heath has shared the frustrations of players, fellow managers, club officials and supporters across Wales at the lack of progress in getting the 2020-21 local football season started.

Tier 3 Penycae are straining at the leash to kick-off their fixtures in 16-team Ardal North East, but the Welsh Government is refusing to give the go ahead for action to begin in leagues below tier 1. 

The FAW’s phased return to football only currently allows intra-club friendlies involving no more than 30 people.

While friendlies between different clubs will be permitted soon, there is no definite sign of competitive football returning.

Heath said on social media yesterday: “Not a decision I’ve taken lightly but it is not about football any more and more about players’ well being. 

“Lockdowns and a weak @FAWales have ruined it, but I feel this decision is best for the local lads.

“I’ve decided it’s time to call it a day @Penycae due to the FAW and Welsh Government taking REAL football away from us all. 

“I have decided that the club is going to be best managed by someone local who can hopefully at least keep the boys ticking over training and playing boring friendlies, but mainly keep the lads strong enough for the next 18 months, having a beer or two when they can.”

Penycae Football Club released the following statement: “Firstly, we are deeply saddened by Ben’s decision but having spoken with him we fully understand the reasons behind it.

“The ongoing situation with football within Wales is very frustrating at the moment and the future of Welsh football is looking very bleak. We are at a stage now where not only clubs will suffer and fold but where people’s mental well-being is deteriorating by the day.

“This is something that needs to be addressed from the top down with clear, proactive leadership and concise messaging and communication – which has been lacking to this point.

“Ben joined the club in a time where we were struggling in the Welsh National League, he jumped straight into a relegation battle and relished the challenge.

“Ben’s passion and charisma were evident from the first minute and ultimately he oversaw an upswing in results which saved the club from relegation.

“After securing our league position, Ben has been working hard to build not only the playing side of the club but also the senior staff, with several coaches joining him or returning to the club to take the backroom staff to the next level.

“We always knew that this was a long-term project and felt that we were well on our way to achieving what we set out when Ben first took over the reins.

This is why we are deeply saddened by his decision to step down as manager.

“Penycae Football Club would like to thank Ben Heath for all his hard work, passion and dedication to our football club over the past two years.

“We hope your time here can be looked back on with pride and you will always be welcome at the Cae!

COMMENT – GRASSROOTS NORTH WALES

So sad to see Ben Heath depart as I know he is a man who is very passionate about his football.

The way things are going many other managers will soon follow the same path.

Players will find something else to do on a Saturday because their football has been taken away from them.

The effect on the mental health of football people of all ages across the land sometimes does not bear thinking about.

Unless urgent action is taken by those decision-makers in government who affect our lives, and the football authorities who are simply not doing enough, clubs will fold because those in charge simply will not act sufficiently to give us our game back.

Playing intra-club friendlies is not enough. That 30-person rule needs to change and spectators should be allowed back into grounds.

The Welsh Government has the ultimate say, but the FA of Wales need to push harder too.

Sadly, grassroots football does not seem to be high on their list…..

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