Promotion-chasing football team Caerphilly Athletic will be denied a place in the Welsh Football League (WFL) because an agreement on playing facilities cannot be reached.
The team are currently third in the South Wales Alliance Premier League, which is the fifth tier of Welsh football, but the WFL’s deadline to sort out facilities for next season has now passed.
Club manager Luke Ganderton met with Caerphilly RFC on January 3 to discuss a Virginia Park ground-sharing arrangement to save their ambitions of reaching the WFL.
However, an agreement could not be reached as the club would be unable to afford the maintenance costs involved with a ground share.
Mr Ganderton told Caerphilly Observer: “The meeting with the Caerphilly RFC chairman [Gareth Ashman] seemed to go well, but the costs involved are way out of our budget.”
Mr Ashman, who has been keen on a ground-sharing arrangement, said: “Caerphilly Athletic are unable to pay the maintenance costs for sharing Virginia Park, which is a shame because a ground share could have been beneficial for both clubs.”
He added: “Our senior team plays more than 20 games a season on that pitch and our youth teams play games on it too, so Caerphilly Athletic would need to pay the additional costs of maintaining the pitch for it to be suitable for football.”
Mr Ganderton said: “We’re going to keep trying and would like to speak to Senghenydd RFC about possibly sharing their facilities.
“But our main aim now is to develop the land behind Virginia Park and build our own facilities there. This could cost around £50,000 so we’ll look to do some fundraising.”
This would be a long-term plan for the club, as it is extremely unlikely it could raise the funds and develop the land ready for next season.
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.
WFL Secretary Ken Tucker said: “Caerphilly Athletic will not be allowed into the WFL next season, even if they do win promotion.
“The deadline for them to submit their facilities for inspection has passed.”
But Mr Ganderton said: “If we do manage to sort out suitable facilities for next season we’ll look into appealing to the WFL to overturn the ban.”
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.”