GWENT’S football teams fighting the FAW’s relegation changes have been left “bitterly disappointed” – after the Welsh Government decided that the matter was an FAW matter and not government.

Cascade Ladies FC in Caerphilly and Abergavenny Women’s FC have both been relegated from the Welsh Women’s Premier League following a restructure - despite neither finishing the previous season in a relegation spot.

The teams had been relegated in the restructure – which was announced on May 31 - despite years of success in the league. Conversely, some teams which did finish in relegation positions - and even some which do not currently exist, were given spots in the restructured league.

Dawn Bowden, deputy minister for arts and sport has released a statement following a conversation with the FAW.

Ms Bowden said: “The restructure is a matter for the FAW, not government, but it has been raised on the floor of the Senedd so I felt it important to speak directly with the FAW, to better understand its plans and the impact any decisions will have on our ambition to ensure more inclusive access to sport in Wales.”

Ms Bowden went on to saw she supports the FAW’s ambition and focus on developing and improving the women’s game in Wales and that the organisation acknowledged that the way the restructure had been communicated was inadequate.

She said: “The FAW has given me a commitment that it will do everything it can to support the clubs and players affected by the changes, and to engage more closely and proactively with members of the Senedd and the Welsh Government in future. I look forward to the FAW delivering on that commitment.”

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Abergavenny Women's FC secretary Stuart Summers said he was "bitterly disappointed" with the news - saying she felt Welsh Government intervention was their last chance to get the decision overturned.

“I don’t think it is good for women’s football or for the game," she said. "The FAW have to be held accountable by someone, otherwise it is just allowing them to be able to pick and choose the teams.

“We still haven’t been given our scores and also the FAW won’t give us the criteria because ‘it varies’ – so how can we prepare to get back to the Premier League if we don’t know what we need to do?”

Mr Summers said the club is preparing for next season and highlighted the support they have had.

“We have had a lot of great support from local people, other clubs across Wales and even people in England,” she said.

Caerphilly MS Hefin David said: “Alongside Cascade Ladies football club, I remain disappointed that the FAW are pushing ahead with their decision to relegate the team from the Women’s Premier League, even though they finished above the relegation places.

"The team play at a world-class venue in Ystrad Mynach and have a great deal of potential. The FAW have acknowledged the shortcomings in the way this restructure was approached but it’s a shame that it took the involvement of Senedd Members and Welsh Government for them to do so.

"I would still want the FAW to reconsider their decision. We will be watching the next steps closely and I know that Cascade Ladies will move forward confidently and unbowed, whatever the future holds. I will continue to work with the club to support them in any way I can.”

South Wales East MS, Laura Anne Jones, added her voice to those concerned about how the matter was handled.

“The FAW are right to recognise that the way they communicated during this restructure was inadequate, but that doesn't help clubs such as Abergavenny Women’s FC who have been unfairly demoted because of an opaque administrative process, rather than their on-field performance," she said.

"I'm disappointed that despite the minister's involvement, and the allegations regarding the process that has been followed, the FAW has refused to reopen the process and still believe that this decision will do a great deal of harm to the women's game in Wales.

"It shouldn't have taken a government minister weighing in to get the FAW to promise to improve. Football in Wales needs the FAW need to pull their socks up and deliver on their promises to support clubs and players affected by their changes.

“I will be liaising closely with clubs in my region in South Wales East and will not hesitate to call-out the FAW if it continues to fail these women."