THE Welsh Assembly must come up with funds to safeguard the future of Welsh clubs in Europe.
That is the verdict of Welsh Premier secretary John Deakin, who says it is time the government pulled its finger out to help Welsh non-league football.
Deakin’s call comes in the light of new Uefa ground criteria, which from next season will require Champions League and Uefa Cup games to be played at grounds with a capacity of at least 3,000.
That will rule out all the grounds in the Welsh Premier from hosting the games, although the league will apply for exceptions while they work on upgrading stadia.
The plan is to upgrade three grounds so that there is one in the North, one in mid Wales and one down south with the required capacity.
But for that to happen, Deakin says the Assembly must stump up some cash.
“The financing of this is going to be a problem,” he said. “But the national Assembly has a part to play in this.
“They haven’t put a brass farthing into improving the infra structure of our teams, so hopefully we can get some money from there but we’ll have to wait and see.”
He added: “We are going to apply for exceptions, but when you go to Uefa for these exceptions you have to put in an improvement plan to show that you’re not just resting on your laurels.
“You have to show you’re going to improve your facilities so you don’t have to ask for exceptions in the future.
“I’m hoping the FAW will approach Uefa,” he added. “I think it’s a matter for the national association, so in the report that I’ve made to the FAW I’ve recommended that the Assembly be approached.”
Deakin was speaking after returning from a meeting of small national associations at which the new Uefa criteria was discussed.
“The Irish FA organised a meeting of smaller associations who have similar problems with their stadia to try and get some common ground,” he said.
“If we don’t get the exceptions our clubs are going to have to play on grounds like Wrexham, Swansea and the Millennium Stadium.
It just takes the gloss off qualifying for Europe, and personally I think it discriminates against the smaller associations.
“Unless your club draws a big fish – like when TNS drew Liverpool when they’ll probably move anyway – unless that happens why do they need 3,000 seats? They’re not going to get 3,000 spectators.
“Rhyl are getting towards 2,000 for their European games,” he added. “But Carmarthen, for example, are only getting six or 700. As far as I’m concerned it’s ridiculous.”