We’ll fight on against this ‘cultural vandalism’

This letter was originally printed in the Barry and District News on 20/06/13 – 

“Today (Thursday 20th June) was meant to be the day that the Barry Town SC launched its 2013/14 season plans. Pre-season trips to England, matches with Welsh Premier opposition and a home fixture against Cardiff City were all on the table, along with new links with establishments within the town. The Vale Football Academy was poised to be taken on by the BTSC, with the first team, harbouring Welsh Premier intentions, acting as a carrot for youth development in the area. The group’s matchday programme had just received significant sponsorship, while the Edgar’s Gift cancer charity was set to join the two Barry firms emblazoned on the team’s new shirts.

Now these initial plans appear in tatters – a group of men from outside the Vale of Glamorgan have decided  that, after 100 years, there is to be no more ‘Barry Town’ football at its natural level – affecting everything from the senior side down to the kids. In spite of the BTSC independently running the show for the past two seasons; winning Welsh Programme Awards, bringing in the biggest crowds in a decade and tackling Merthyr and Newport en route to a Welsh Cup Semi-Final appearance only two months ago, these men have chosen to demote this set-up to parks football.

The Barry set-up pitched to continue next season was, to a man, the same as which ended this one. The same players, manager, supporters and friends, in the same colours and at the same ground, all under the Barry name. What happened to this people in May was a travesty – one man’s signature allowed to pull them out of the league, against the will of all others. By all accounts, the same man has now left the country. How one man can wield such power and the system can sanction it is another matter – ordering office stationary often requires two signatures, and yet a 100-year old club can be swept aside with one?

Despite all this, the FAW made it clear that by following their procedures and protocol, the Barry Town community could continue on next season at a Welsh League level. After all, they did nothing wrong to vacate this position, and had paid fees and fines to the FAW as ‘Barry Town Supporters Committee’ for the past two seasons. Various FAW representatives were telling anyone that would listen that the very minimum position for Barry would be Welsh League Division Three.

However, the FAW Council last Thursday, voted AGAINST the motion of their own Domestic Committee – meaning certain people must have changed their stance when it came to the crunch. Was this their intention all along, in order to rid the Welsh League of a resurgent Barry side with strong community backing? At the moment, we can only speculate – in an appalling failure of transparency, there have been no reasons given at the time of writing.

It would not be unfair however to suggest that the predicament these men has placed our town’s representative team in appears expertly-orchestrated – with the decision putting Barry in a position where they cannot appeal directly as they are not recognised as a member club and coming at a time when no prospective FAW Councillors can be put up for election against the present incumbents.

The short-sightedness of the FAW Council is evident for all to see. We have a town of 50,000 here – denied football at a level it broke no rules to forsake. The BTSC has paid every bill on time and is in no financial trouble – a rarity in today’s game. The team they were set to put out next season would have been both competitive and viable. Volunteers were pledging support left and right. September marks 100 years of Jenner Park, and the Barry Town football family was gearing up to mark this historic landmark by continuing the lineage of competitive, high-level football started by people in this town a century ago.

Instead, the FAW Council have put a colossal roadblock in the way. What this suggests for the future of the game in Barry, and indeed Wales, when a historic, well-supported and forward-thinking set-up can be discarded at the drop of a hat, is anyone’s guess. All we can say as things stand is that by going against the will of our MP, AM, MEP, Vale of Glamorgan Council and a petition of thousands, these men have shown little but disdain for the sport they are surely supposed to be helping – and for the people of Wales’ biggest town.

It adds a whole other level of betrayal when one considers FAW Councillor Ken Tucker gladly accepted free tickets to the BTSC’s ‘100 Years of Barry Town Football’ event in November – and then was part of the group that voted to END the 100 years! Betrayal does not even begin to describe it.

Another nail in the coffin for the town of Barry? Nobody can blame the Vale of Glamorgan Council for this one. Their support for the team’s continuation has been vocal and considerable. Nor the supposed “apathy” of local people, whose online voice has rattled the Welsh football community in the week since the news. No – instead our town has had crippling decisions detrimental to its identity and future made by people without a care in the world for our opinions or indeed existence.

For followers of Barry Town football, standing among the young and the old at Jenner on a matchday is one of our town’s remaining pleasures. Some have been following Barry since before the Second World War – since before there was even a “Town” in the name. Others have a passion that could have carried us forward for the next 50 years. To deny all this is cultural vandalism at its most devastating. Where does the community go from here? We fight it – for our town, our club and our people; a number of whom have given literally years of their life to ensure continuation.

Follow us online at twitter.com/standupforbarry and #JusticeForBarry for all the latest. Join our fight and spread the word.  After all, it could be anyone’s club next – and anyone’s community gutted. Let the press know, the government know, the world know – let them know our town won’t accept another brutal slap in the face.

We’ve only just begun.

Stand Up For Barry Campaign

www.Twitter.com/StandUpForBarry

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