Monday, 20 May 2013

The case for a Barry Town, united

The owner of Barry Town AFC Ltd has decided that he no longer wants to run a Welsh League football club, and more importantly, no longer wants anybody else to run it for him. It has to be the biggest act of spite in domestic football. He's kept his limited company, and he still has an ever-diminishing lease from the council for his social club, but he will no longer have a senior football team. In fact, I doubt very much he'll be allowed to kick a ball in his own back yard such have his actions outraged the football community.

Archaic rules have meant that one man, acting on his own, has been allowed to withdraw Barry's senior football club from competition in its centenary year. It's an absolute disgrace it was ever allowed to happen. The town of Barry wasn't founded until the docks came in 1884, but had a senior football team within years. Since 1892 the association football code, supposedly promoted by the Football Association of Wales, has been played at a senior level in Barry. It's not just a football club, it's a town's heritage, it's culture. Football has always been part of the fabric of this town. He can claim the name of the club as being his, but he can't claim anything else.

So what happens now?

Friday 17 May 2013 saw the Barry Town Supporters' Committee officially launch Barry Town United AFC at the Barry Town Players' Awards event. We will no longer be allowed to be known as Barry Town AFC, but this is not a rival club, it is not a so-called 'phoenix' club. The 'club' is not broken. It never failed, and it didn't go bust. We weren't booted out for financial mismanagement, and we didn't break any rules. Frankly, a loop-hole in the rules saw us being removed from league football purely and simply in an act of spite.

With Barry Town AFC Limited now no longer operating Welsh League football, we believe we can legitimately claim to inherit the legacy of the spirit of the original Barry AFC and Barry Town clubs by having a senior football club from Barry placed into the Welsh League. I believe we can rightfully carry on the history of the previous incarnations (of which there are many - let's not even mention the Barri Dragons) of our incredible football club.

Everybody knows who we are. Everybody knows who we will continue to be.The Barry Town Supporters' Committee deserves its own place in the Welsh League, and will carry on as before - if with a slight name change. It will have the same supporters, the same officials, the same players, the same football ground, the same colours, the same spirit and energy as the Supporters' Committee has been achieving for 2 seasons already.

What it won't have is one single person operating a limited company for profit as the basis of its interest in football.

Our aim will be to reach the pinnacle of domestic Welsh football; the Welsh Premier League, and to once again entertain the football elite of European football at Jenner Park. This, admittedly, will take some doing.

Over the past 2 years the BTSC has been operating and funding, alongside its incredible sponsors, the football at Barry Town and it has made terrific strides in terms of media coverage and exposure off the pitch, and have achieved moderate success in the League and a Welsh Cup Semi Final spot in the recent campaign. We have also been able to engage more with local sponsors, and we look forward to pushing this forward next season.

We believe this will be the first time in decades, if at all, that supporters can be certain that the owners are pulling in the same direction as them - the supporters will be the owners and the decision makers. We intend to make positions at the football club available by elections. Never again will one person call the shots and have ultimate power of senior football in Barry.

I've read recently that there is a 'rescue package' which will see us being moved into Division Three of the Welsh League. That is not a rescue package, that is denying us our rightful place in the pyramid. We don't require rescuing. That is further undermining this team's and our player's efforts. It is setting senior football in Barry back a minimum of 2 years. How can this be justice? The BTSC has been successfully running its team - forget the term 'club' - in the Welsh League Division One for 2 seasons already.

The BTSC has paid its own affiliation fees in its own name with its own bank account and these fees were accepted by the governing body. It would be a further act of injustice for this football team to be set back another two seasons by being placed in Division Three.

Some clubs like us, and I'm thankful of that, but I also know that we're not everybody's cup of tea. But I appeal to the non-believers, that whether you liked Barry Town AFC or not, you must see that anything other than Division One football in 2013-14 will be an injustice. Do not punish us by dropping us two divisions in order for us to pay for a man's actions acting on his own. Prove to everybody that we are legitimate and recognise us continuing to be a Division One football club.

The team put together by manager Gavin Chesterfield and being operated by the Barry Town Supporters' Committee is the exact same team that wishes to compete next year. The owner of the old club no longer has a senior football team. We appeal to everybody that stayed away under his reign of terror to come and support us, and unite with us as we get this football club back into the Welsh Premier League and European competition, once again putting Barry back on the football map.

The previous owner made a mockery of our history and our legacy and embarrassed the supporters at almost every turn. He is no longer our master or your master. Let's make this town's football club a community club, uniting with the people of Barry for the first time in a long time. Let's make this club a club the whole town can be proud of once again. Have a say in its decision making.

I'm calling on the authorities to give us justice. This is a Division One team, playing Division One football, representing the Welsh League in the Welsh Cup Semi Finals, and proud to have done so. Recognise us as the rightful heirs to the spot in Division One vacated by the old club. The Football Association of Wales needs to invoke Rule 11.1, as they then have the authority to right a wrong.

This is not his Barry Town, it's better, it's united.

Fans will still refer to it as 'Barry Town', and fans will still sing 'Up the Town'. Everything will keep this club as Barry Town in the hearts of its supporters. I won't be changing my flags. I won't be making new ones. Everybody knows who we are. I refuse to believe that a loop-hole in the rules has killed off my club, and I refuse to recognise anything other than we should simply pick up in 2013-14 where we left off in 2012-13, but without the daily torment, the threats and the insinuations. I'm a Barry Town supporter, and will always continue to be. You can't take that away from me.

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