Aberystwyth Town FC has reached a watershed in its proud 139 year history and volunteer members of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee have been very disappointed by the FAW’s decision to restrict the Club’s Academy to four age groups only, namely Under 12s, 13s, 15s and 19s. This decision has potentially left a significant gap in the availability of football coaching of children and youngsters in Mid-Wales. Our Club, like several other Welsh clubs, mounted a vigorous appeal against the FAW’s decision but unfortunately all of these appeals were rejected by the FAW.
What is the future of coaching of age bands Under 8s to 11s:
Fortunately, Aberystwyth and district is blessed with a thriving Junior League and all children in this age group will continue to represent clubs in the League. In addition however, the Club will liaise both with the FAW and the Junior League about the pathway for the area’s talented players. The Club will, in any event, be seeking to regain Category B Pre-Academy status for season 24/25.
What is the future of coaching at age groups Under 14 and 16?
The theory behind the FAW’s decision is that players in these age bands will help to bolster performances in the Under 15 and Under 19 teams respectively. This is critical as the FAW has confirmed that, provided the approved Academy teams perform well in season 23/24, they will consider upgrading the Academy to Category B status in 24/25, and even if that application is unsuccessful and the Club remains Category C, the FAW will consider adding a further age group for season 24/25.
How does the FAW’s decision affect the Club financially?
Around 2014, the FAW persuaded the Club to develop its 3G facility (at an eventual cost of approximately £650K) on the premise that the pitch hire charges engendered would enable the Club to remain self-sufficient and thereby remain in the Welsh Premier League (Aberystwyth and Newtown are the only clubs to have been ever-present in the (now) Cymru Premier since its inception in 1992).
Due to stringent FAW requirements, the majority user of the 3G pitch has been by the Club’s Academy and Pre-Academy teams. The costs of maintaining the pitch, providing floodlighting (the Club will this month be converting in full to LED at a cost in excess of £50K), and paying into a sinking fund to replace the “carpet” in due course have increased exponentially over the last eight years. However, the Academy’s ability to contribute to such costs has now been removed by the FAW’s decision to restrict the Club’s Academy status to Category C which has thereby reduced the FIFA funding to the Club to nil. The Club is now actively seeking local sponsors to replace the FIFA funding.
What is the Club’s next steps?
Four highly-qualified and experienced coaches -- Bari Morgan, Matthew Bishop, Dave Owen and Antonio Corbisiero -- will lead on the Academy teams.
Discussions with the Junior League and FAW concerning aftercare and provision for Under 8 to 11s have commenced and are ongoing and trials for all Academy teams will take place later this month.
Onward and upward!