Promotion-chasing Caerphilly Athletic could be denied a place in the Welsh Football League because of a lack of suitable facilities.
The club, founded in 2007, has gained six promotions to reach the South Wales Alliance League Premier Division, which they currently lead.
But unless the club can secure a Welsh Football League (WFL) approved pitch and facilities by December 31, the promotion dream will end.
WFL-approved facilities must have a permanent, fully-covered stand with a minimum capacity of 100 spectators and must also have adequate changing rooms, toilets and hospitality facilities.
Luke Ganderton, who is the club manager and first team head-coach, told Caerphilly Observer the club has tried to gain access to match day facilities in Ystrad Mynach, Fochriw and Aberdare, but have been unsuccessful in their attempts.
If the club is promoted, they would be able to use the pitch at Bedwas RFC, but it would need to be upgraded. However, if the club fail to win promotion, they would be barred from playing there as the ground is outside of the current league’s boundaries. This has left the team with a major headache, as they would stand to lose large sums of money if they went ahead with this plan, but failed to gain promotion.
The club, founded by Mr Ganderton 11 years ago as Dynamo Aber, changed their name to Caerphilly Athletic at the start of last season. They currently play at Morgan Jones Park.
Mr Ganderton said: “We relocated from Abertridwr to Caerphilly so the club could continue to grow. I want to develop a real community club and I’d like us to reach the top tier in Welsh football one day.”
The club has been in contact with Caerphilly County Borough Council regarding the issue, but has been told that other council-owned facilities would likely be in full use already.
Mr Ganderton told Caerphilly Observer: “With the potential leisure centre closures there could be more teams competing for facilities.”
He fears that being denied promotion could see a number of key players leave the club.
He said: “A lot of my players are better than the level we are at. We could lose five, six or even seven top players if we don’t go up.”
Currently, Caerphilly Athletic are in the fifth tier of the Welsh football pyramid and have more than 60 registered players spread across their senior team, second team and two youth teams. There are also plans to establish a women’s team in the near future.
But the lack of facilities available is already having an impact on the club, according to coach Chris Hughes, who joined the A’s two years ago.
He said: “We get so much interest from local businesses, but the lack of facilities has really affected sponsorship deals.”
Mr Hughes, who is training to be a FAW goalkeeping coach, added: “There has been so much progress in the time I’ve been here. There is so much ambition within the club.”
But unless an agreement can be reached before the end of the month, then the club will be denied promotion and could face an uncertain future.
A council spokesperson said, “We’re obviously very keen to support the growth of local sporting clubs. Caerphilly Athletic Football Club currently hold regular training sessions at the Centre for Sporting Excellence and have a game booked at the facility this coming weekend.
“With the limited pitch facilities we have, we continue to look at ways we can support the club in securing a more long term base, along with a number of other sporting clubs who are in similar positions. The council is currently developing a more strategic and standardised approach for how lease applications of this nature are taken forward in future.
“The club are aware of this, and we’ll continue to keep them fully informed of developments.”