So tier 1 has been operating for three months, tier 2 is due back soon and tier 3 is set for a January comeback.
Welsh domestic football is slowly returning to normal – albeit still stopping spectators from attending games is a travesty – but what about tiers 4 and 5 men, as well as tier 2 women?
For those levels to have any chance of completing the season, they will need a start date similar to tier 3 – otherwise we can forget it for 2020-21, and that would be a disaster.
If teams in tiers 4 and 5 men and tier 2 women are allowed to play friendlies, then what is stopping competitive matches getting underway?
In statements to the media of late, the FAW refer to ‘the return of tier 4’ only and label the others simply ‘and below’.
And below? How about just calling things as they are?
Simply state: “The return of men’s tiers 4 and 5 and women’s tier 2 will be next on the FAW’s agenda.”
By not referring to the latter two tiers by name, it arouses suspicion that the governing body have no plans for these tiers at all.
It’s already downright offensive in my book that the lower tiers in Wales are dismissed as ‘recreational football’ – a point I made some months ago.
It is a horrible term and in no way reflects the hard work that goes into preparing clubs for football in tiers 4 and 5.
The FAW could instantly reassure clubs in tier 5 – who they are happy to take registration fees from – that they have an identity simply by referring to them by name.
There are some fantastic clubs in North Wales tier 5 this season who have long and distinguished histories and merit more respect.
Bethesda Athletic, Cemaes Bay (ex-Cymru Premier team), Holyhead Town, Llanfairpwll, Rhos United, Llandudno Amateurs and Caerwys are all clubs who have played much higher up the pyramid over the years.
Most have really good facilities and some carry ambitious plans for the future.
And what about the talent which has emerged from in and around the tier 5 standard?
Asa Thomas, not yet 30 but already with 514 career goals to his name, has shone in the fifth tier and found the net all the way up to Cymru North level.
And there’s Corrig McGonigle, closing in on 300 goals aged 23 and putting them away regularly for Conwy Borough in the second tier. Supermac first made his mark with Pentraeth in the Anglesey League not so long ago.
So come on FAW, let’s have some answers….
When might men’s tiers 4 and 5 and women’s tier 2 be coming back and what will the format be?
It has been mentioned there will be relegation from tier 3 this season, so there needs to be a tier 4 for them to drop into. And tier 4 and 5 clubs will have their own targets as regards promotion. They deserve the chance to truly go for it.
And I sincerely hope the women’s second tier will not be forgotten. I often feel the female game in North Wales is largely ignored and overlooked in some quarters. It needs some stability.
There are big changes due in women’s football next season with the formation of a national pyramid for the first time. Teams need to prepare for that and the only way that can happen is by playing matches and forming the squads they need.
Young talent needs to be prepared for the new under-19 development league.
Exciting times ahead, but only if our lower tiers are given the chance to flourish.