28 May ~ Until this week Southern League Premier club Merthyr Tydfil FC had no idea where they would play matches next season, what league they would be in and what they would actually be called. A former Conference side and participants in the 1987 European Cup-Winners Cup, Merthyr started last season with a 10-point deduction due to entering administration. This was seen by the supporters' trust, "Martyrs to the Cause", as the only way of getting rid of former owner Wyn Holloway, whom many blame for the decline of the club.

Merthyr spent all last season effectively being run by the trust who managed to fund a team capable of surviving relegation, which they managed with a final day draw, while also finding £600 a week to pay the administrator, all on average gates of around 300. During this period there were no realistic offers for the club, so it was expected that it would be formally wound up. A new club, still playing out of the council-owned Penydarren Park, would then reform and start next season a couple of leagues lower in the English pyramid. The Football Association of Wales stated that they had no objection to Merthyr remaining in the English pyramid and an application was made to the FA to reform the club in a lower league next season.

However, earlier this month the administrator advised the trust that he was in negotiations with a property developer to sell the lease of Penydarren Park. As the site is council owned and built on a Roman fort there would seem to be little prospect of any development being given the green light. This left the club effectively in limbo – with no idea what ground they would be playing in next season they could not apply to join any league. The end of the administration period is June 12. While it could be extended to October the trust has concluded that it is better to pull out now and leave the administrator and any potential developer to fund the club, effectively calling the bluff of both parties.

At an emergency meeting held by the supporters' trust on Tuesday night, fans were advised that, while the long-term aim was to return to Penydarren Park, it was now almost certain that they would have to play at another ground next season. With this in mind they have registered with the Western League – mainly comprising of teams from Somerset, Dorset and Devon – and will ground share with Welsh League club Taffs Well. With the immediate issues of a ground and league to play in almost resolved it seems likely that the old club will be liquidated on June 12, with a reformed Merthyr continuing next season. Whether the new club will be financially viable playing 18 miles away from home and whether it will ever return to Penydarren Park remain to be seen. However, fans remain optimistic, citing the recent success of Newport County, promoted to the Conference for 2010-11 as an example of how a club can recover and climb back up the pyramid. Paul Ashley-Jones

Comments (12)
Comment by mattlufc 2010-05-28 12:42:45

excuse my ignorance on this but wouldnt joining the Welsh league system and rising up that be a better idea? Surely in a relatively short time they could be a powerhouse again challenging for Europe.

If I remember correctly there were issues with the Welsh FA at the time Newport reformed. Do those still exist?

Comment by Jongudmund 2010-05-28 13:21:55

I think the FAW is less opposed to Welsh clubs playing in the English pyramid as a) the vested interests in the Welsh Premier League experiment don't want bigger clubs coming in and stealing their July UEFA games / money; and b) one of the Premier League clubs, TNS play in Oswestry in England, further muddying the waters.

If Cardiff had won at Wembley you can bet the FAW would be the first in the queue for VIP tickets to Premier League games.

Also, Merthyr's pedigree is better than Conference. Back in the 1920s, both Merthyr and Aberdare Athletic played in the second division of the Football League. At that point their were six Welsh clubs in the league, five from South Wales.

Comment by Red Adder 2010-05-28 21:35:16

I'll think you'll find that Merthyr and Aberdare never got beyond mid table in Div 3(S) and where pretty dire just before they left.

Comment by Bynbrynman 2010-05-28 21:59:39

I've been a Merthyr supporter all my life, but this ant-Welshness is bordering on racism. They've gone from ten years in the 3rd division South (Aberdare 3 years), to the top of the Southern League and the best non-league side in the Land, Europe, and now the Western League; they are under the delusion that they will work their way back, something they have failed to do in the last 70 years. Wales needs them, England doesn't.

Comment by Jorge Porbillas 2010-05-29 07:26:27

Jongudmund is not actually correct when he says "the FAW is less opposed to Welsh clubs playing in the English pyramid".

Neither the FA nor FAW will sanction another club crossing the border, although it is fair to say that the FAW don't have an appetitie at present to try and force the exiled clubs back to Wales because of the relative successes of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport.

TNS play in Oswestry having merged with Oswestry Town - founder members of the FAW.

I'm not sure that this Merthyr Tydfil FC is the same club as the league club of the 1920s either ...

Comment by English Republic 2010-05-30 00:23:17

Why is it "bordering on racism" to question the legitimacy of Welsh clubs playing in the English league's? Every Welsh club in our league is keeping an English club at a lower level so it should be in the interests of English football to seek to elevate English clubs at the expense of their Welsh counterparts. That is protectionism rather than racism.

Comment by Dalef65 2010-05-30 14:19:20

This is slightly off topic but i beleive that if Cardiff had won the FA cup in 2008, they would NOT have been allowed to play in the UEFA cup (because they are not an English club).
But if they had got promoted to the PL and got into the UEFA cup by the league , they would be allowed to play......!!
Confused? Well i certainly am....

Comment by rick derris 2010-05-30 19:58:14

wrong dale65

we (cardiff) would have been allowed. of course it didn't come to that as we lost

Comment by Dalef65 2010-05-31 18:19:22

Cheers Rick,
Dont get me wrong,Im not against The Bluebirds playing in the UEFA Europa thingy,I just got confused with all the arguments that went on at the time

Comment by CF48 MARTYR 2010-06-01 13:09:59

English Republic, the truth is the non league game in England, Scotland, Ireland & Wales is in tatters, and more to the point in England (below conf prem) its being cast adrift of with the embarresment of riches from Premier League downwards.

I presume your protectist attitude would account for forgien players taking the slots of English/Welsh/Scottish or Irish players, who have proved at the top level are simply not good enough.

To improve evolution is key, and sadly, its missing here....

Merthyr Tydfil FC, Colwyn Bay FC, Newport County FC, Wrexham, Swansea City & Cardiff City have the right to play in England and we are all here to stay FACT...


Comment by mattlufc 2010-06-02 11:36:13

On a neither racist nationalist or protectionist point why do Merthyr Tydfil and Colwyn Bay FC want to play in England as also rans? surely as the welsh and scots get more national powers the moods of the nations should be to create a league to be proud of. I dont understand why you say you are here to stay FACT. its only a historical blip that means these teams are in anyway. Obviously different for Cardiff, Swansea etc... as there is serious money where they are and wrexham and newport are probably better off. Dont say its because of the FAW becaue all the home nations FAs are useless/incompetant etc...

Comment by Bynbrynman 2010-06-23 02:31:57

In using the term 'bordering on racism' it was in an inverted mirror image sense as I was relating that I can't understand why Merthyr, being themselves a Welsh club, seem to be blindly anti-Welsh. Whether or not it was the same club as in the twenties is debateable; it was a new administration and change of name from Merthyr Town to Merthyr Tydfil but the same ground and supporters with the same collective memory; it was the same club brought back to health after a breakdown.

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