CENTRAL Wales football clubs have called for urgent and immediate reform of the Welsh football pyramid.
Spar Mid Wales League One champions Rhayader Town withdrew from the Huws Gray Alliance last week, citing excessive travel demands behind their decision while leading calls for structural reform
The club insisted the current pyramid was no longer viable and have received support from across Central Wales.
Clubs have championed the need to regionalise the Spar Mid Wales League while also declaring Central Wales should no longer feed into the northern the second tier, the Huws Gray Alliance.
Instead clubs have backed the creation of a Central Wales league at level two, on par with the North Wales and South Wales Leagues.
Resentment toward the current set-up has grown in recent years with Central Wales spanning 80 miles from its northern to southern limits and a staggering 95 miles to its western limit at St Dogmaels while demanding vast distances covered for clubs in Spar Mid Wales League One and Two.
In comparison the Wrexham League One and Two, the Mid Wales League’s equivalent in North East Wales, covers an area of 30 miles.
Llansantffraid Village manager Ray Jones insisted it was time for Central Wales to stand up for itself and demand second tier status.
“The area has the clubs with the second tier facilities already,” said Jones. “The Central Wales area covers an area of more than half of Wales so it deserves second tier status.
“The FAW will likely defend the status quo and claim the Wrexham League’s standing at level three and four is warranted through population but if that’s the case then why are leagues covering Cardiff, Swansea and Newport placed so low in the South Wales pyramid, often at level six or seven.
“This season Llansantffraid will be covering more miles than a Welsh Premier club. This is not defendable and ultimately not sustainable.”
Welshpool Town chairman Russell Cadwallader supported reforms.
“The Mid Wales League should not be on the same level as the Wrexham League,” said Cadwallader. “Mid Wales should have a league at level two and support all efforts to reform the pyramid.”
Clubs also warned if the situation continued the Mid Wales League would be unsustainable.
With South Powys clubs unable to make the step up to the Huws Gray Alliance the Spar Mid Wales League has become bloated with clubs from the region which in turn has dissuaded clubs from Ceredigion and Cardiganshire from joining the Mid Wales League.
A Brecon Northcote statement read: “Mid Wales League Two could be divided in two with top sides going into an end of season play offs on a home and away basis with the two finalists promoted into the first division.
“Central Wales is too big to sustain leagues without losing team after team season upon season. Look at Hay and Rhayader, two of the bigger clubs struggling for a number of reasons.
“Reform is good but it's got to be for the benefit of clubs and the area to be able to compete against other teams should clubs step up in the tiers. It wouldn't look good to reform and then Central Wales clubs being unable to compete at the higher level.”
Knighton Town backed a Mid Wales League at level two of the pyramid.
“We would definitely back a pyramid reform,” read a statement. “The structure needs to be looked at and Mid Wales should have its own tier two set up.”
Montgomeryshire League clubs called for a structural review of the current pyramid, insisting the status quo was no longer an option.
Waterloo Rovers Football Club’s statement read: “Reform is needed, whether that is a Mid Wales League at level two, creating a highly competitive league with more derbies and larger attendances.
“Or regionalise the Mid Wales League to reduce travelling, as clubs like ourselves have players unable to commit to the current two hours a week travelling.”
Forden United stated: “The league's can carry on in the format they're in at the moment, just turning into a farce every pre season.
“Anything that keeps the competitiveness of the leagues intact, but also allows for teams to actually be able to compete would be welcomed by us.”
Meanwhile Trewern also backed calls for structural reforms, stating; “Anything that will benefit the system moving forward and reduces travel distances would of course be great for Mid Wales football.”
Current Mid Wales representatives in the Huws Gray Alliance, Guilsfield and Penrhyncoch insisted their support for the establishment of a Mid Wales League at level two would depend on the league’s composition.
See full story in the County Times