THE Football Association of Wales finally put grassroots football out of its misery and cancelled the 2020/21 domestic season.

This is something that everybody knew was going to occur for some time despite the lack of clarity from the governing body, who’ve been almost entirely focused on the top-end of the Welsh footballing pyramid throughout the entire COVID-19 restrictions preventing play.

Teams across the country were at the end of their rope. So in that sense the FAW’s announcement was well-timed.

However, just how costly their handling of this situation is going to be long-term is concerning and undecided in equal measure.

The FAW might argue they were giving the leagues below JD Cymru Premier, North and South a chance despite there being almost no chance they were ever going to be granted “elite athlete” status by Sport Wales. But the simple fact of the matter is they’ve probably done more harm than good and not for the first time during this pandemic.

This announcement came just five days after the January transfer window closed.


Doing it sooner would have allowed those in Tier 3 or below a chance to perhaps move to a club that will actually be playing fixtures between now and the end of the campaign.

Managers have spoken and praised player loyalty amid offers from elsewhere at a higher standard, but what that’s cost them is no competitive football because the FAW couldn’t see the bigger picture and kept everyone hanging on for that little bit longer.

This is not only bad for their development, but for some, it will have a substantial impact on their mental health.

If that wasn’t enough, player registration fees will not be refunded. But fear not, there will be a discounted rate next season.

Another slap in the face for those that have to pay to play in most cases rather than the elite who bring in that all-important UEFA money, which is all that seems to matter at the end of the day.

This elitist approach could come back to haunt them. Grassroots football is the life and blood of the domestic game in Wales, with many top-flight stars starting out at teams much lower down the pecking order.

Many of these clubs now face an uncertain future. Dwindling player and manager interest thanks to a lack of both activity and clarity, together with no sponsorship money coming in, is going to take some time to recover from.

For some, it will be the final nail in their coffin.

Even for those in Tier 2 who will start their season, it is going to be a real struggle. No fans equals no match day revenue, and the majority if players still need paying. Couple this with a gruelling schedule that will see them play 15 games in nine-and-a-half weeks and it all just feels like they’re pushing it all through for the sake of it after backing themselves into a corner regarding promotion and relegation.

After speaking to a significant number of people associated with the grassroots game in Wales, confidence in the FAW is at al all-time low.

This began with the derogatory “recreational” status and ended with another dangling of the carrot and an announcement that was too little, too late.