A football club has hit out at plans which will see them demoted from the top tier of women’s football in Wales.
Cascade Ladies YC, who play in the Welsh Premier Women’s League, avoided relegation in the season just gone – but are set to be denied a second season in the top division.
The club finished eighth in the league, two points above the relegation zone, having been promoted from the second tier in the 2019/20 season.
As part of plans revealed by the Football Association of Wales (FAW) on May 31, the top division will be reduced from nine teams to eight for next season.
As well as Cascade, Abergavenny Women’s FC and Briton Ferry Llansawel Ladies will also be relegated to the second tier as part of the plans.
Aberystwyth Town, who finished bottom of the top flight and would have been relegated, will remain in the top flight, while Barry Town United Ladies FC and The New Saints will join the revamped first tier next season.
The plans also affect teams further down the pyramid, including Blackwood-based Coed Duon Women FC, who have been removed from the second tier.
Why have these changes been made?
On May 31, the FAW confirmed the creation of the new Tier 1 and Tier 2 leagues, which will replace the Welsh Premier Women’s League.
Tier 1 will contain eight teams, while Tier 2 will contain 16 teams – split into an eight-team southern conference and an eight-team northern conference.
Cascade Ladies have, alongside Abergavenny and Briton Ferry, been placed in Tier 2 South.
In a statement, the FAW said the changes signal “a new era of domestic women’s football in Wales”.
The restructure was introduced after a “full review of the pyramid in 2020, which included consultation with clubs, players, leagues and officials at all levels”, according to the FAW.
The governing body added: “The clubs were selected following a rigorous independent licensing process and a thorough review of clubs’ development and sustainability plans.”
Gail Powell, who is a club representative for the Welsh Premier Women’s League on the FAW Council, welcomed the changes and said they will “have a major impact on development and sustainability”.
Caerphilly Observer has contacted the FAW to ask what, if any, support will be offered to the clubs affected by these plans.
What do the clubs think?
In a lengthy statement posted on Twitter, Cascade Ladies YC said they were “extremely disappointed” at the announcement.
“Throughout the recent unprecedented times, our ladies team have worn the Cascade YC badge with pride, inspiring the next generation of players and reminding them that smaller clubs can compete on the biggest stage.
“Through a very difficult season we worked hard to gain our Tier 1 licence and put in place a number of developmental areas and agreements to use elite facilities to allow us to facilitate the growth and development of women and girls’ football in Caerphilly and surrounding areas.
“Unfortunately, this has not been enough to retain our place in the league.”
The club added: “It now seems that brand and badges are more important than hard work, determination and results.”
The club thanked its supporters and said it stands with Abergavenny and Briton Ferry, who have also been affected by the changes, which it compared to failed plans by some of Europe’s wealthiest men’s clubs to create a European Super League.
The statement concluded: “As a club, we do not and will never support decisions made to reorganise a league on a selective non-competitive basis.”
Meanwhile, Coed Duon Women FC also posted a statement on Twitter after news of the restructuring came out.
It said: “As a team, we worked extremely hard during a pandemic to meet all criteria set out by the FAW. Still, unfortunately, they have decided to hand select teams rather than basing their decision on sporting merit.
“Although Coed Duon Women FC was only re-established in 2017, the girls entered the bottom of the pyramid and gained back-to-back promotions to earn their position in the second tier of Welsh women’s football.
“Seeing other teams jump the ladder to perform at a higher level is deeply disappointing.”
The club went on to claim that grassroots football is “being forgotten about” in rural areas, and voiced its support for Cascade Ladies, as well as Abergavenny and Briton Ferry.
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