Mark Drakeford is playing Scrooge seven months early

First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture: Senedd Cymru | Welsh Parliament

Sporting Scrooge Mark Drakeford visited the Conwy county area on Thursday to outline what Welsh Labour will do for North Wales.

What an ideal opportunity it was for Wales’ First Minister to score a goal with football fans by giving Caernarfon Town the go-ahead to let in spectators for their Euro Play-Off Final against Newtown at The Oval on Saturday.

One of the best supported clubs in Wales would have benefited from a bumper attendance cheering on their bid to secure European qualification for the first time in their history.

But instead misery Mark did what he nearly always does – show a complete disregard for sport in North Wales, especially the grassroots variety.

He posed for photo opportunities when visiting a distillery, yet ironically remains barred from more than 100 pubs in North Wales following his announcement of strict new rules for the industry linked to the coronavirus pandemic last December.

Perhaps Drakeford didn’t feel the need to do North Wales any favours.

This month Labour won half the seats in Wales for the next Senedd, matching its best performances in a Welsh election.

However, complacency can be a bad enemy. Labour have lost the Vale of Clwyd seat in both parliament and the Senedd to the Tories, who also held on to Clwyd West.

Drakeford has proved time and again his main priority is South Wales – he’s not too bothered about the North.

This week in the Senedd, the First Minister was praised for congratulating Connah’s Quay Nomads on winning the Cymru Premier League title.

One sentence is all he managed on a subject he would have probably been oblivious to but for the prompting of Welsh Labour MS for Alyn and Deeside, Jack Sargeant.

It would have been far more apt for Drakeford to pay a visit to the national champions’ stadium to meet staff and players.

But the FM has no interest in North Wales sport. He proved this in an interview last year, where his woeful lack of knowledge on Welsh football shone through but he made sure we all knew there was little chance of an imminent return to football or allowing spectators back into grounds.

Even though football is returning steadily, the behind closed doors policy remains, much to the detriment of Caernarfon Town.

This week saw the final nail hammered into the coffin when Welsh Government refused a late plea to admit fans to Caernarfon’s play-off v Newtown on Saturday.

An appalling decision. Why?

1 Newport County and Swansea City have justifiably been allowed fans at their English League play-off games, but both cities have Covid rates 3-4 times higher than Gwynedd.

2 Up to 10,000 Newport and Swansea fans are permitted to travel to London on packed buses and trains while a few hundred Caernarfon followers are not allowed to walk to the stadium in their own town.

3 Caernarfon Town and the rest of the Cymru Premier have successfully hosted and regulated nearly 200 matches in 2020/21 without a single Covid case reported.

4 Perhaps the most ridiculous injustice in all this is that Caernarfon fans will be able to fill their clubhouse and local pubs to watch a game on TV that is taking place in the open air just yards away.

5 The Welsh Government isn’t biased towards the south? Consider that of the nine test events to admit spectators, not one is being hosted in North Wales. If Wrexham reach the English League play-offs, fans will be allowed to attend a 10th pilot.

Drakeford has refused requests this week from Gwynedd politicians Sian Gwenllian and Llyr Huws Gruffydd for fans to attend the play-off at The Oval, claiming that pilot events require ‘months of planning’. However, the Newport County pilot event was arranged with 10 days notice.

This is the biggest game in Caernarfon Town’s history. They deserve to have the occasion graced with spectators.

By the same token a lively atmosphere, plus the prospect of having a few of their own fans in the ground, may have boosted opponents Newtown as well.

Instead, we are left with another behind closed doors event because of a First Minister who does not give two hoots about North Wales sport.

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