|'Row could do lasting damage'
THE full depth of bad feeling generated between Welsh soccer bigwigs and clubs in Wales' flagship league is today revealed by a Western Mail investigation.
The paper's reporter, Ian Hunt, says "We have learned that the rapport between the FA of Wales and clubs in the Welsh Premier has never been so bad."
The Western Mail says the civil war raging just below the top tier is threatening to do lasting damage to Welsh football.
A survey of the Welsh Premier teams has found:-
• Clubs furious with the FAW for insisting the League should be scaled down to 14 teams, claiming no reasons have been given.
• Many accuse the FAW of heavy-handedness and being unsympathetic.
• League bosses desperate for a greater share of cash from the Uefa pot.
• Clubs fear moves to reduce the league would cripple them financially.
The row flared up when the governing body blocked a move by the clubs to keep Welshpool in the league.
Club chiefs say the FAW's behaviour raises questions about their backing of the league.
Some have talked about refusing to start the season while others are demanding urgent talks with the FAW to resolve the conflict.
TNS boss Mike Harris says: "What this whole issue shows is the need for the FAW to communicate far better with the clubs.
"They want to rationalise the league to 14 teams, but have not outlined the reasons. The thinking among some clubs is that this issue could delay the start of the new season.
"But I feel there's a case for more communication before a more militant stance is taken.
"My own feeling is the FAW management committee should run the league - and have a clear understanding of where they want to take it."
'No major problems' - FAW
Meanwhile, the FAW claims there are 'no major problems'.
The FAW's secretary general, David Collins, says: There was unanimous agreement between the Welsh Premier board of directors and the FAW management committee as to the way forward for the league. And that meant everyone agreed on a reduction in the number of league clubs to 14.
"It therefore took us by surprise that the clubs then recently proposed something different.
"The reasons for having a 14-team league were explained in a series of meetings with the Welsh Premier board. It lies with the board to go back to their clubs and explain those reasons - one of which relates to UEFA directives - but there really shouldn't be any confusion.
"Our support for the Welsh Premier is total, as strong as ever. If there is animosity or anxiety among clubs it has not been conveyed to us."
Western Mail article in full
What the clubs have to say