Briton Ferry Llansawel Ladies today make the following statement regarding our failure to secure a place in the Welsh Premier Women’s League for the 2021-22.

As part of the restructure of the women’s game in Wales, the FAW have seen fit to relegate three teams; Abergavenny, Cascade and Briton Ferry Llansawel respectively in favour of two new teams.
 
In a detailed letter to the National Game Board, we have highlighted several reasons why we have found the decision to relegate all three teams both unjust, ethically wrong and, in our opinion, discriminatory in favour of the other clubs. We remain perplexed by the reasons for the decision and find it difficult to comprehend how the FAW could come to the judgment it has.
 
A leading priority from the FAW’s restructure of the women’s game in Wales was their criteria to improve the competitiveness within the League. As a forward thinking, progressive club, Briton Ferry Llansawel AFC have invested in a planned development of our ladies’ pathway and infrastructure over the last eight years. This strategy helped ensure our ladies finished outside of the relegation places in tier one for the third consecutive season.

We do not wish to castigate those clubs taking our place in next season’s Ladies Welsh Premier League. We will leave those involved within the ladies’ game in Wales to come to their own conclusion about the fairness and legitimacy of how these places were gained.

However, we do believe their success in gaining a place undeniably, raises serious questions about the levels of due diligence and fairness undertaken by the FAW during the application process. It’s our opinion that decisions to exclude certain clubs have been made based on perceived assumptions that are superficial at best and derogatory at worst.
 
From the outside looking in, the whole process lacks credibility and is a consequence of a dated proposal created by the previous regime. Surely, it would have been prudent to suspend the restructure until the current FAW members implement
their own strategy.

Sport is about level playing fields. What is the future of ladies’ football in Wales? If success is determined by decisions made in the boardroom of the FAW and not on  playing fields across Wales?  
 
All we ask of the FAW is for transparency. Justification both factual and ethically to help make the decision to exclude all three clubs more comprehensible. There is
disillusionment, anger, and frustration within our club. Since being informed of their decision, the FAW has shown a distinct lack of empathy and arrogant disrespect for the emotional and physical impact on our club.  

The implications of our enforced relegation reach far wider than the gates of the Old Road Ground. It will have, in some cases, an irreparable impact on our community and our ability to provide opportunities to young players and coaches via our links to local clubs. Is this the legacy FAW envisaged with the restructure?
 
In the short time since the decision, the devastating impact it has had on the mental health and wellness of some of our players is heart-breaking to witness. Thankfully, we are fortunate that we already have in place the support network and experience to help players impacted by our exclusion.
      
Even with the embargo in place, it was evident and clear from the correspondence
we have received that there is and will be continued negative public opinion towards the restructure. We would like to thank all the clubs, both ladies and men across Wales who have shown amazing support since the news broke of our ladies
enforced relegation.
 
So, what should the FAW do now? Well, we believe the FAW should be scrupulously honest with themselves and acknowledge that on this occasion they have made a mistake. The important thing now is to move on, reconnect with clubs, rebuild unity, and acknowledge that the restructure in its current format will undoubtably fail to move the ladies’ game in Wales forward.  

Finally, in football we all face moments of great disappointment, but it is how we react that will define us. Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to return our ladies team to their rightful place in the Ladies Welsh Premier League.