Alun Cairns, MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, has written to Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, in support of the football teams in the JD Cymru and more specifically, Barry Town United.
The MP’s missive references the financial impact that games played during the pandemic have had on the teams in the league and the potential to allocate a portion of Covid-19 support funding, given to Wales by the UK Treasury, into Welsh sport.
Cairns also used the letter to pass on the clubs’ desire to welcome some fans back to the game, to help bring some revenue back and minimise losses. Cairns said:
“The preference of the 12 clubs would be to readmit fans at reduced numbers, possibly through ticketing. This would allow them to be financially self-sufficient, as well as enable them to play a role in bringing the community together during this tough time.”
The Vale MP went on to suggest alternative strategies that could be put in place to support the teams of the JD Cymru Premier, as well as other sport in Wales more generally. His letter continued:
“If a business is prevented from trading, the government has followed the general principle that they should receive financial support. I believe that this approach should continue through to Cymru Premier clubs.
“This is a devolved policy area where the Welsh Government has complete responsibility. The Treasury has made £4Bn of Covid Support (available) to Wales, which included £59M for Welsh arts and culture. I note that only £53M has been transferred to the sector. Could the £6M be used for sport in Wales?”
Cairns went on to highlight the financial aid which Wrexham AFC will receive as part of the English Football Pyramid, where Welsh clubs will, as yet, not.
The former Secretary of State for Wales concluded his letter to First Minister Drakeford by personally backing the call for a limited number of fans to return to Jenner Park, home of Barry Town United, on a game day, saying:
“With these points in mind, the capacity of some playing venues is significant, although they normally expect a modest spectator crowd for regular matches, Jenner Park, Barry, is an example that has a capacity of 2375, with a typical gate being 400-500. Therefore, I am confident that a limited crowd could be managed safely and appropriately in spite of Covid risk.”
Barry Town United have been unequivocal in their support of the return of fans to games, posting a video in support of the movement on their social media on October 9th, with appearances from Manager, Gavin Chesterfield, former Welsh International and current Barry Town player, David Cotterill and fans of the club. The post has gained widespread support on Twitter, amassing over 46 thousand views.