Fans win fight to save Barry Town

barry town jon candy cc flickr

Back in May Ken Gaunt, a former football reporter for the Press Association, reported on Barry Town's fight to stay alive. Remarkably their fans took the fight to the Welsh FA and won. Ken explains more...

Have you heard the tale about a group of fans who took on the considerable muscle of a national football association - and delivered a crushing blow?

Well it happened in court when a judge ruled in favour of Barry Town United and said that the Football Association of Wales’ Council acted unlawfully in not reinstating the club in the Welsh League.

And for the first time in three months the supporters’ committee who have bankrolled the team for the past two seasons - and want to continue doing so - had something to cheer after the FAW confirmed they accepted the decision.

Long-serving football secretary David Cole summed up the victory perfectly by stating: “We have been a resilient lot and always said we would not give in. Justice has been seen to be done.”

Barry brought in high profile sports lawyer Jonathan Crystal to fight their corner and it proved to be a master stroke.

Judge Anthony Seys Llewellyn QC condemned the FAW Council’s decision not to allow the club membership of the FAW, and in turn membership of the Welsh League, as “flawed” and “irrational”.

Barry’s problems began in May when former owner Stuart Lovering, frustrated at failing to find a buyer, pulled the team from the Welsh League with two games to go.

The club, who had enjoyed many fine European nights, was renamed and the FAW’s domestic committee said they should be reinstated as well as another domestic giant, Llanelli.

However both Barry and Llanelli were rocked when the FAW Council over-turned that decision and told both to start at the bottom of the pyramid, parks football in effect.

Cole and the committee have been staggered by the level of support from neutral fans, those within the game like Matt Le Tissier and politicians like Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns.

Cairns has been named an honorary club president - “I feel truly privileged” - for his tireless work and putting pressure on the powers that be to right a wrong.

However Barry, who progressed against the odds last season to reach the Welsh Cup semi-finals, have still been punished in some respects. They have been relegated two divisions and will longer play in the First Division but the Third.

That’s the fourth tier of the pyramid and a long way back for the Jenner Park faithful, who saw their heroes defeat Porto 3-1 in 2001.

There were signs of that spirit in pre-season - despite the turmoil - when Gavin Chesterfield’s side lost narrowly to a Cardiff XI with about 1500 fans attending the glamour friendly in the resort.

Barry actively encourage local boys and girls to participate in sport and such is their standing in the community they have been asked to run the council-backed Vale Football Centre of Development.

That ringing endorsement of the club’s status makes the FAW’s stance all the more bizarre and such has been the fall-out from the court verdict there are now calls for an urgent review of football in Wales.

Stand Up for Barry (@StandUpForBarry) is the name of the club’s Twitter account. No wonder the supporters are standing loud and proud today. 

Thanks to joncandy for the image reproduced under CC license.

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