Fighting against an injustice – Barry Town United AFC

I have spent a fair bit of my time this week helping the Barry Town Supporters’ Club in their fight to reinstate their club to Division 1 of the Welsh Football League.

The club, celebrating its 100th anniversry this year has had an illustrious career, including even beating Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto at the Jenner Park stadium Barry.

Sadly, it has more recently had its down times, perhaps hitting rock bottom when the Club’s current owner withdrew the club’s teams from their Leagues with just two games to go.

This was seen as a spiteful, vindictive act against the Barry Town Supporters’ Club, which for the last two years has been running the club’s teams and enabliung them to keep the club alive.

In response the Supporters’ Club  is now launching a new club – Barry Town United FC to take over the mantle of the former club.

Now if you were the Welsh League – and do read its Strategy Report 2012 – you would encourage the future of the game in Wales’ fourht largest town (after Cardiff, Swansea and Newport) and also, in the light of the success of the German model of running club football, want to encourage supporter power.

Word is however, that the FA of Wales will reinstate the club in Division 3 of the Welsh League.

This would be a kick in the teeth to true fans of football, the wider football family, and the town of Barry.

Barry can be described as a ‘mushroom Town’ in that its future well-being, whether it is football or local government, is a case of being ‘kept in the dark and crapped upon on a regular basis’.

So, moved by the sense of injustice and also a regular supporter of the club (West Ham United are still my first love) I have taken action.

Below is a letter I am sending to the FA of Wales in support.

You can visit the Barry IdeasBank

and also sign the e petition below:

I hope justice will prevail, that the Welsh FA will both read their own Strategy Report and also recognise the importance of doing the right thing.

I hope people, like the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones AM – a keen football fan who heavily endorsed the the FA of Wales Strategy Report, will also get behind the cause of Barry Town United AFC and get the club re-instated to Division 1 where they can rebuild their efforts to regain their rightful place in the Welsh Premier Division.


Here’s my letter:

An appeal to FA Wales to help Barry Town United FC and Welsh football move forward

We care about Barry and care about the future of our football team.

We are writing to demonstrate our support for the Barry Town Supporters’ Club – the organisation behind a new football club, Barry Town United AFC  who are seeking to work with the Football Association of Wales to promote its strategy for the long-term interests of the game in order to preserve and create a new bright future for one of the nation’s finest football centres, the town of Barry.

We hope that FA Wales will welcome this as an opportunity to take a decision on the basis of fairness and what is best for the football club and its supporters and in doing so, demonstrate a vision for Welsh football in practice that is consistent with the FA Wales Strategic Plan.

Barry is Wales’ fourth largest town – after Cardiff, Swansea and Newport – and the largest town in Wales represented by a club in the League of Wales.

It has a club history of over 100 years that includes a number of landmark victories for Welsh football, notably over FC Porto and playing against Dynamo Kiev. A pre-season friendly with Cardiff City FC attracted a crowd of over 2,000 at Barry’s Jenner Park stadium. Its population is bigger than any of last season’s Premier League teams:  Barry needs at least a Division 1 team.

1. Why a new club for the Welsh football league?
The formation of the new club was seen as the only way forward for preserving and protecting the football heritage and future of Barry Town, to provide a sound, suitable and sustainable way forward.

Choosing the name ‘United’ was significant: in a new era for the Club we must ensure the football club is united with its fans community, the football authorities and the wider football family.

The move to create new ownership of Barry’s football team was made in response to the current owner of Barry Town AFC Ltd, Mr. Stuart Lovering who withdrew both Senior and Youth teams from the Welsh League during May 2013 leaving to the Club not fulfilling its remaining fixtures – ultimately resulting in bringing to an end senior football at Barry Town in its Centenary year

It was an act made in complete independence by one man, completely opposed by the BTSC. It was completely unnecessary, avoidable and caused a great deal of harm and inconvenience to other clubs, the FA Wales and the reputation of the game.

The move was even more galling being made in a season where the club made it the Semi Final of the Welsh Cup and was on target to finish around 6th in the league.

The destructive act marked the final act of acrimonious relationship between the owner and the supporters of Barry Town FC which inspired their decision to set up a new Club to take over from the old.

2. A better future football in Barry and its contribution to Welsh football
We believe BTSC has done the right thing during the past two seasons in sustaining Barry Town on the field of play.

It was BTSC which paid all costs for running the Club including all fees to both The Football Association of Wales and Welsh Football League competitions.

We also believe that there are significant lessons to be learnt from Germany, where supporters’ owned clubs have provided a powerful springboard for league and international success. The future Barry Town United AFC can serve as a leading example of Welsh Football being at the forefront of new strategies and ways of running the game.

The Supporters’ Club has demonstrated it can act to the highest standards of financial integrity and probity.

3. A re-instatement to Division 1
The FA of Wales should allow BTSC’s new Club, Barry Town United AFC, to become a full Member Club of the FAW and to play its games under the auspices of The Welsh League in Division One.

There s relevant precedent:  when the former Barry Town, Rhyl and Caernarfon were allowed direct entry to Welsh League, Cymru Alliance and League of Wales respectively in the early 1993 having previously been playing in England.

If there was a scenario of Cardiff City FC, Swansea City FC, Wrexham or Newport County FC seeking admittance to the Welsh leagues it would be unthinkable that the Welsh FA would insist on their being allowed entry only at the bottom of the pyramid in Division 3.

Barry has a growing population bigger than any club in the Welsh Premiership 2012-3 season.

Without a representative club from Barry means there are currently only 15 teams in Division One of The Welsh Football League.

There are sporting precedents of football clubs involved in serious financial misdemeanours being punished with relegation. (The example of Rangers FC in the Scottish League is a prime example of this.)

If Barry Town United AFC were to be only allowed in at Division 3 level, this would in effect be the same punishment as if they had been previously guilty of severe financial misconduct. Yet, as has been demonstrated over the last two years, this is not the case with BSTC – but is facing the same punishment as if it had been guilty.

Further the viability of the new club would be threatened by being placed in Division 3.

In Division 1 it can attract sufficient gates and sponsorship to enable it to meet its obligations. If it is placed in Division 3 it faces at last two years without those, which makes for much more challenging rebirth.

4. Aligned with your strategy for a better future for Welsh football
The Football Association proudly launched its new strategy in 2012 with the endorsement of the First Minister Carwyn Jones.

Supporting the reinstatement of Barry Town United as a Division 1 team sits perfectly in accord with this strategy.

Making the right decision about Barry Town United AFC , demonstrates how the Strategy is not just words within a glossy brochure but a true commitment to aligning actions with the future best interests of the game, and delivering the Strategy’s vision.

The Strategy highlights the message of Welsh football:
‘working as a team,
‘with a commitment to joined up thinking’,
‘plan for constant growth’,
‘best platform for growth in participation’,
‘teamwork the key – ‘best play is team play’,
‘..if we can ensure everything we can control is achieved to the best of everyone’s ability’, ‘acknowledge success in all areas’,
‘an abiding Welsh way on and off the pitch’,
‘a lasting legacy’, stand for clear values and embody them in everything,
‘realise potential of Welsh football brand that builds sustainability’,
‘grow the game and raise standards throughout Wales’

We have not chosen phrases from the report selectively or out of context; every one of these statements is in accord with reinstating Barry into Division 1.

For its own public affairs the strategy talks of ‘improve the image and perception of the Association across Wales and beyond.

For its public relations the report states: ’ It seeks ‘a positive perception of a forward thinking, modern and high profile FAW by fans and supporters, media and key stakeholders’.

Does the FA Wales honestly think that the football family would see Barry Town being demoted as anything but an injustice? What damage would this do the reputation of FA Wales and Welsh football in general?

The strategy details a one ‘total game’ plan of:
• professionalism
• pro-active development
• inclusivity
• shared principles and values
• communication
• business acumen
• global player
• wider contribution
• excess demand
• Welsh identity
Every one of these points supports the reinstatement of Barry Town United into Division1.

The strategy goes on to call for:
‘greater influence in encouraging financial stability for all affiliated clubs’,
‘encourage clubs to feedback to FAW’,
‘A Welsh way of playing embracing respect and fair play’,
‘financially successful with sound long-term investment strategies, guaranteeing the future development of football’

And perhaps most significantly the Strategy report proposes that FA Wales should operate by delivering:
‘Progressive forward-thinking administrative functions that educate rather than penalise clubs and individuals’

The strategy emotively talks of ‘moving mountains’ – yet any decision to demote Barry to Division 3 would be the opposite: a case of digging a grave for new ways of doing, upholding the right, fair way of doing, securing justice to allow a decent group of fans to create a better future for football in Barry and Wales – a ‘Chwarae Teg’.

5. Next steps
We support BTSC in its appeal to FA Wales to consider admitting Barry Town United AFC to take the place previously occupied by Barry Town FC in Wales Division 1 and for this matter be brought to the attention of all the FAW Council Members at their meeting to be held on Thursday 13thJune

We have identified what we believe to be the 11 key questions FA Wales needs to consider in making its decision to reinstate league football in Barry Town, and to entrust guardianship of this role to the successor club’s supporters.

The 11 key questions for reinstatement of Barry Town United AFC to Division 1

What decision reflects the best way forward for football in Barry, FA Wales, and the wider sporting and football community?

Is it better to reinstate the Club to Division 1 Is it better to demote the Club to Division 3?
#1. The best interests of FA Wales, the wider football family is best served by:
• •
#2 Future growth of the game is best provided by:

• •
#3 The decision sets a precedent – or decisions are made pragmatically on their individual merit:
• •
#4 The principle of good governance by member club’s is upheld:
• •
#5 Is punishment required? (Have other clubs in the league been treated unfairly by the new club owners? Is action required here?):
• •
#6 The image and reputation of FA Wales and Welsh football is best served by:
• •
#7 The FA Wales sponsors would approve of the move reflecting the actions of a brand they are in tune with, and proud to partner with:
• •
#8 The decision signals joined-up, forward-thinking by FA Wales embracing new ideas for the game:
• •
#9 Greater fan and community involvement with the game needs to be encouraged:
• •
#10 The decision represents good, progressive governance by FA Wales:
• •
#11 The move would be seen as the right thing to do for securing justice for a community ill served by the actions of a former vindictive club owner: • •
6. Final thoughts
Anything less than reinstatement in Division 1 is punishing the real fans of the football family. A century of football tradition of football in Barry hangs in the balance for Wales biggest League of Wales town.

There are rare times when profound critical decisions have to be made.

We believe this is one of them. We ask FA Wales to do the right thing, which is in the best interest of FA Wales and Welsh football’s future – by approving the reinstatement of Barry Town United AFC into Wales Division 1 League and not demoting the club to Division 3.

We respectfully ask FA Wales to admit Barry Town United into Division1 on the basis that it would be the fairest decision for the club and its supporters and for the League of Wales, as well as being the decision which is most consistent with FA Wales’ strategic vision for Welsh football.



From someone who cares about the future of Barry, its football team, Welsh football and the interests of the wider football family

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *