A MONMOUTHSHIRE football club is ‘gutted’ after being kicked out of the Welsh Women’s Premier League following a restructure.

Abergavenny Women’s FC have been in the top league of Welsh women’s football for nine years, winning twice in that period. In this most recent season, they finished fourth but have still been demoted to the second tier in the restructure.

Club secretary Stuart Summers said: “We’re absolutely gutted. We’ve performed consistently during the nine years in the league and have been the fourth best team and yet we’re being relegated.

“We punch above our weight for a small market town. We don’t have the backing of some of the clubs who are associated with the bigger men’s teams.

"We drew 0-0 with the champions Swansea yesterday. We’re all devastated. We’re not a professional team and we all use our own money to help the club. The girls are all devastated.”

Mr Summers and the club are unhappy with the decision - believing it to be unfair - and have started a campaign on social media after pleas to the Football Association of Wales (FAW) to allow them to see their scoring matrix for the decision were refused.

They also appealed, but were told nothing could be done.

“They told us about 18 months ago about the league restructure and we were fine with them going from nine teams to eight.

"They said that they wanted to make it a more competitive league and having been consistent with good finishes in the league, we thought we’d be fine.

“It was strange when they said we all had to apply to be in the league but we did anyway.”


The FAW were looking at the pyramid scheme including eight teams in Tier 1 and eight teams each in Tier 2 North and Tier 2 South. There will also be a new U19s league in North and South Wales.

To determine which clubs would take their place in these new leagues, the FAW oversaw an open application process that involved two stages. The first was the initial licence award where clubs provided evidence to show that they met the minimum criteria for each level.

Successful Clubs progressed to Phase 2, presenting their club development plan to a panel of FAW, FAW Trust and FIFA experts who assessed clubs across seven key areas; three of these were ‘core’, awarding double marks for Sporting (factoring in previous performance in the League), Financial Sustainability and Human Resources.

37 clubs signed up to the process with 33 progressing to Phase 2, 13 at Tier 1 and 20 at Tier 2, meaning that the competition for the 24 available places was extremely high.

With their successful junior teams, the club thought they would be okay.

“We got the news to say that we had not been selected for the premier league because we didn’t have a gym on the ground and also that we had been reliant on grants and didn’t have a clear pathway.

“It was hard for us to show a pathway because of the Covid restrictions in place.

"Also, we were told to apply for the grants because we were playing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and used the grants to ensure we were covid-compliant and had plenty of products needed to keep our players safe.”

The choice of some of the teams included in the premier league has also frustrated and baffled the club.

“The New Saints have a club in the league; however, they disbanded their women’s team 12 months ago and are now advertising for players because they have the premier league licence.

"How can a club that doesn’t have a team get given a place?

“Also, Aberystwyth Town are still in the premier league despite being bottom and only winning one game.

"How are they staying in a ‘competitive league’ over a team who have been up there near the top for years?”

The club has had a lot of support from people across Wales following the decision, which was made official today when the FAW released the teams in the new structure.

“It appears they have done something like the European Super League by picking most who are linked to big men’s clubs.

"If that is the case come out and say it, do not hide behind fairness and say we want to run a competitive league.”

The FAW have been contacted for comment on the Abergavenny situation.

Concerning the wider league shake-up, FAW Head of Women’s Football Lowri Roberts, said: “It’s been inspiring to see the level of work clubs have put into their application. We’ve seen a real shift in mindset from the clubs in how they are developing elite environments for players and how they are building for a sustainable future.

“Through implementing an open application process for entry into the new leagues, a club’s place was not solely down to sporting merit but also robust club structures. It has made clubs review their entire structure, playing pathways and the provision they provide players. As a result, all clubs will be collectively striving to continuously improve standards in a competitive environment.”

Andrew Howard, FAW Head of Competitions, added: “Throughout this process we have seen clubs securing significant investment into their women’s programmes and strong commitments in terms of resources being made available within the clubs, from appointing full time staff to long term partnership agreements.

"Clubs should be very proud of what they have achieved off the field over the last year and we look forward to this exciting new chapter for women’s domestic football in Wales.”

Here is the list of teams in the new structure:

Tier 1:

• Aberystwyth Town

• Barry Town United

• Cardiff City

• Cardiff Met University

• Pontypridd Town

• Port Talbot Town

• Swansea City

• The New Saints

Tier 2 North:

• Airbus UK Broughton

• Bethel

• Connah’s Quay Nomads

• Denbigh Town

• Llandudno

• Llanfair United

• Pwllheli

• Wrexham

Tier 2 South:

• Abergavenny

• Briton Ferry Llansawel

• Caldicot Town

• Cardiff Bluebelles

• Cascade YC

• Merthyr Town

• Talycopa

• Swansea University