JD CYMRU North and South clubs are set to be granted ‘elite athlete’ status by Sport Wales to get their season underway.

The Journal understands that second-tier clubs across the country will get some positive news from the governing body after the Football Association of Wales formally applied to the governing body for the two divisions to join the JD Cymru Premier and Orchard Welsh Women’s Premier League with the same dispensation, something that has been sorely missing in recent months.

Should the status be granted as expected, teams will then ramp up preparations for the start of their campaign, which will be played behind closed doors initially until social distancing measures are relaxed.

The FAW also state they have submitted an application for Tier 3 clubs so also get ‘elite athlete’ status, but this process of getting every team COVID-19 compliant is expected to take longer.

However, those in what the FAW described as “recreational” leagues – which includes Tier 4 – are unable to receive this status at the present time.

An FAW spokesman, said: “The FAW has proposed additional competitions to be included in an extended elite category.

“These competitions, however, must sit between the existing elite cohort (i.e. Cymru Premier & Welsh Premier Women’s League) and a community sport level (i.e. Tier 4 Men’s, Tier 2 Women’s and below).

“Therefore, this means that the FAW can only apply on behalf of the National Leagues, i.e Cymru North, Cymru South, Ardal Northern and Ardal Southern leagues. Sport Wales will make the decision on whether the elite category will be extended to these leagues.

“Club’s participating in leagues deemed ‘recreational’ by the FAW Rules, Tier 4 Men’s and Tier 2 Women’s and below are currently unable to apply for this status.”

Friendly fixtures that are taking place across the region following the ‘fire-break’ lockdown still have the rule of 20 applied to them until told otherwise, and the FAW were quick to pass blame after all parties involved – including the Welsh Government – came in for significant criticism.

“The FAW is fully aware of the frustration felt throughout the Welsh Football Family but it is important to recognise that the Association is not responsible for the national COVID-19 policies and guidelines,” the spokesman added.

“Along with other governing bodies of sport, the FAW must find a way to bring football back as safely as possible within the policies and guidelines set by Welsh Government, which are of course put in place to keep the nation as safe as possible during this unprecedented pandemic in modern times.”