Saints’ year is ended by league shutdown

All Cymru League football has been suspended for three weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Action from The New Saints’ final match of 2020, a 2-1 win over Penybont. The Cymru Premier has been shut down for three weeks
Action from The New Saints’ final match of 2020, a 2-1 win over Penybont. The Cymru Premier has been shut down for three weeks

After Wales was raised to Alert Level 4 on Monday, elite status was removed from the Cymru Premier, Welsh Premier Women’s League, Cymru North and Cymru South, meaning only fully professional clubs could continue to operate.

However, the league itself has chosen to call off all league action for three weeks – including for pro clubs such as Oswestry-based The New Saints – in light of that most recent decision.

League leaders TNS will have just one fixture affected – their trip to Haverfordwest County on December 29 – and will sit top of the pile until action can resume.

Their next scheduled match is a trip to Flint Town United on January 16 should the situation in Wales improve, with the measures to be reviewed at the end of the three-week period around January 12.

A Cymru League statement yesterday read: “Following the decision of the National Sport Group to rescind the elite status designation provided to the JD Cymru Premier, while Wales is at Alert Level 4 of the Welsh Government Control Plan for Covid-19, the league has come to a decision in relation to its fixtures during this time.

“Although fixtures between professional clubs are permitted to take place during Alert Level 4, the JD Cymru Premier has decided that no matches will be played for a minimum period of three weeks, having fully taken into consideration the rapidly changing public health crisis in Wales. If Wales remains at Alert Level 4, this will be reviewed at the end of that three-week period of time.

“Meanwhile, the elite status designation will be automatically re-instated should the Welsh Government move the country to a lower Alert Level.

“Along with the Football Association of Wales, the JD Cymru Premier and its clubs urge everyone to follow the Welsh Government guidelines during the lockdown to limit the spread of Covid-19 to keep people safe and restrict the impact on NHS Wales.”

The decision means TNS completed their fixtures for 2020 with a 2-1 in over Penybont.

It was a year in which their run of eight consecutive titles was ended by Connah’s Quay Nomads on average points per game when the 2019/20 campaign was curtailed by the outbreak of Covid-19.

Ian Williams chief operating office at The New Saints said: “It’s hugely frustrating but based on the current Covid levels in Wales it’s understandable.

“I think with the levels rising all of the clubs were under no illusion that possibly this situation could happen.

“It happened previously, at that time the professional clubs within the league were able to play but on this occasion the decision has been made to suspended the league for the next three weeks.

“With the professional status the players will still continue to train.

“The current levels in Wales, which is level four, if that drops down to level three then the Welsh Government and Sport Wales may bring back the elite status to enable the league to carry on.

“If that happens in three weeks time then it’s important for us to continue to train. And with us being fully professional we are able to do that over the Christmas and New Year period.

“There is a review every three weeks so we will be looking ahead to that and keeping a close eye on the level in Wales. We will see what happens at that time and hopefully we will be playing football soon.”

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