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Show FAW the red card - Porthmadog

Paul Abbandonato, Western Mail Apr 6 2007

ONE of Wales' leading clubs is calling for a rebellion against FAW bosses after an extraordinary racism row broke out.

Officials at Porthmadog FC, who are mid-table in the Welsh Premiership, last night set up what they call "a fighting fund" to help them in an on-going behind-the-scenes battle against the FAW.

Porthmadog are calling on every club in Wales, as well as individual supporters, to join forces with them as they fight a points penalty and financial punishment imposed upon them by the FAW.

The three-points deduction threatens Porthmadog with relegation from the League and their hopes of an FAW Premier Cup spot, and thus a £15,000 windfall, next season.

In a strongly-worded official statement, Porthmadog chairman Phil Jones claims the backing from other clubs is crucial for "anyone who believes in justice to ensure fair play and common sense prevails."

Porthmadog go on to castigate the FAW, claiming, "They are out of step and have made themselves, once again, look ridiculous."

The extraordinary broadside follows an incident at a Porthmadog versus Cwmbran League game earlier this season when a home supporter racially abused an Asian linesman.

Porthmadog say they abhor any form of racism, ejected the supporter and banned him from future matches.

But the FAW still cracked down on the club, deducting them three points, fining them £1,000 and imposing a suspended fine of £12,000 in case of any further incidents.

Porthmadog got the suspended fine overturned at an appeal hearing last Friday, but the FAW insisted that the points penalty and original fine still had to stand.

Porthmadog then hit the roof when they were told they had to pay the FAW's £3,000 legal costs.

They have refused to give in over the matter and last night announced they would take the case to an independent court of arbitration, at a further cost of £2,000.

"We have no option but to pursue this matter further because we believe we have been dealt with in a heavy-handed manner," claimed chairman Jones.

"This is a matter of principle which affects every club in Wales, big and small. Someone had to stand up to the FAW and the way they have dealt with this sensitive issue.

"We abhor racism. We had one irresponsible person who racially abused a match official. He was apprehended and banned from the ground.

"But the manner in which the FAW have dealt with us is in total contradiction to the way even worse cases have been handled in Spain, Italy and other leading football nations.

"In Spain, racism is rife. There was a recent incident involving Atletico Madrid where thousands of their fans were chanting racist abuse.

"What punishment did the Spanish FA give them? A £420 fine and that was it. No points deduction, or anything like that."

Jones continued, "The unjust action the FAW have taken against us threatens us with relegation and puts our place in next season's Premier Cup very much in jeopardy.

"We have to take this matter further, which is why we have no option but to go to arbitration.

"That, in turn, of course, makes it even more expensive for us.

"We cannot shoulder this burden on our own. As with the vast majority of clubs in the Welsh Premiership and other lower leagues, Porthmadog FC is run by volunteers who spend 365 days of the year working hard to raise funds.

"We do so especially to upgrade facilities to meet increasing demands from the football authorities, without, we should stress, proper financial support from them.

"Therefore, we are establishing a 'Fighting Fund' specifically to ensure that fair play and common sense will prevail.

"We hope that clubs at every level in Wales, and anybody who believes in justice and the future of Welsh football, will contribute.

"There are 400 clubs in Wales, if we get £10 from each of them, we will be well on the way.

"This fund will be ring-fenced, detailed accounts prepared by an independent auditor after the outcome of arbitration is known.

"And any surplus will be donated to a charity or organisation which has been established to promote racial harmony and counter racial abuse.

"None of it will find its way to our club coffers."

Jones claimed, "When we appealed, we technically won, as a suspended fine of £12,200 until the end of December 2007 was overturned.

"However, the panel decided that it would award its own organisation, the FAW, 75 per cent of its legal costs, an exorbitant total of £4,000.

"Given the FAW's perennial pleading of poverty when it comes to supporting grass-roots football clubs in Wales, people should questioning the spending of an exorbitant £4,000 on this case."

Jones concluded by saying that he and the Porthmadog board wanted to see racism eradicated from football.

"We have shown to our supporters and the rest of football that we are prepared to take positive action. as we did with this particular incident," he said.




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