Welsh Government 'crazy' not to allow fans back for Cymru Premier play-off final

Caernarfon fans watching their team face Connah's Quay from behind the wall at the club's Oval ground
Cymru Premier games have been played behind closed doors this season

Caernarfon say they have been "inundated" with requests from fans wanting to watch Saturday's Euro play-off against Newtown, but say current Welsh Government regulations would not allow it.

The Cymru Premier was not included in a number of 'test events' recently announced.

But supporters will be permitted to watch the game on TV in nearby pubs or clubs.

One Caernarfon councillor referred to the "crazy" scenario of fans watching in pubs but none allowed into an open air stadium.

"A lot of people are talking about it and it doesn't seem fair to allow thousands into Premier League stadiums this past weekend yet not even a handful into Caernarfon's biggest game in years," Cllr Jason Wayne Parry, who represents the town's Peblig ward on Gwynedd Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

"The divergence in rules between Wales and England has been problematic but it makes no sense at all in this case, at the Oval you could easily bring in 2-300 people and still maintain social distancing.

"When you consider that so many people have had their jabs and cases in Gwynedd being so low, surely common sense has to prevail?

"As things stand people will just be trying to watch the game from outside of the ground on stepladders or congregating in pubs, it's crazy and I can't see the logic of it at all."

Caernarfon Town said in a statement: "As much as we would like to allow every one of you in for the fixture, current Government regulations do not allow it.

"Therefore, please do not contact Board members and staff requesting permission to attend the match, as our hands are tied and we simply cannot oblige.

"We have already contacted our Member of the Senedd regarding the possibility of lobbying the Welsh Government to allow supporters into the ground for the match and will let you now if there are any developments."

Local Senedd Member Sian Gwenllian has written to Vaughan Gething, the Welsh Government minister responsible for "major events" under his economy portfolio, and Dawn Bowden the Deputy Minister for Sport.

In response, a Welsh Government spokesman said: "The First Minister has said if the public health situation remains positive, at the next three-week review at the start of June we will consider moving to alert level one, which could allow larger events and organised activities to take place, informed by the programme of pilot events, currently underway."

The Welsh Government was previously accused of "favouring" teams playing in the English pyramid system by the Cymru Premier secretary.

Gwyn Derfel pointed to Swansea City and Newport County being allowed to host limited numbers of fans in their recent home play-off games.

"On 11 May when the nine test events were announced... we were informed that we weren't going to be one of them," Derfel told BBC Sport Wales.

"One of the test events pulled out and we once again offered our services and we were told 'no, we're sticking to eight test events'."

Wales' football friendly against Albania and Swansea City and Newport County's EFL play-off games were among the events, which also included Glamorgan's County Cricket game against Lancashire at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, on 3-6 June.

Wrexham have also been told they will be able to host a limited number of fans if they have a home play-off tie in the National League.

"It does seem quite clear to us that the devolved Welsh-based Government are favouring the Welsh-based teams playing in the English pyramid system over teams playing in the Welsh pyramid system," added Derfel, speaking on Friday night's Radio Wales Sport.

"That's very, very difficult to stomach, especially after we've worked closely with the Welsh Government over the past 14-15 months.

"We just feel it's a missed opportunity by the authorities as well."

"We could be faced with a situation over the summer, if some supporters are allowed to come back, that there'll be no trial events and there'll be about 300 clubs who won't have had a test event with 500 supporters or less, which is what we've asked Welsh Government for time and time again."

'Huge areas of outdoor space'

Horse racing in Wales has also been overlooked among the sporting events considered for tests, although the UK government has allowed the return of fans to equestrian events in England.

Phil Bell, the executive director of Ffos Las and Chepstow racecourses, says it has been "a challenging and difficult situation", while welcoming the financial support received from the Welsh Government during the coronavirus crisis.

"We were just told that we didn't make the list. We have enjoyed a very good relationship with the Welsh Government," Bell said on the programme.

"We've received a grant for Ffos Las and Chepstow, which has helped contribute to our lack of commercial revenue, but we weren't actually given a reason as to why we didn't get a test event.

"I've been over to Bath Racecourse today - I work for a company that owns 16 racecourses in the UK, two of which are in Wales - and they've had 1,200 racegoers through the doors.

"[It wasn't] a test event - the UK government have given the go-ahead for spectators as everybody knows since 17 May.

"Okay, there were a couple of teething issues there today, but generally the event went very, very well.

"And had we raced at Chepstow today we wouldn't have had any spectators so yes, it's a challenging and difficult situation.

"But I did speak to the Welsh Government yesterday [Thursday] and I got the impression that there would be some positive news on 4 June.

"We've got tried-and-tested procedures that have been in place at our English racecourses in terms of running the protocols for a safe event so we are ready to go."

"We've got huge areas of outdoor space in a safe environment."

You can listen to the full episode of Radio Wales Sport from Friday, 21 May on demand.

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC