Non-League notebook: 'Rebel' clubs' cause for relief

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The Independent Online
Non-League notebook

RUPERT METCALF

The long-running saga of the "rebel" Welsh clubs may not yet be over - but friendly relations between the clubs concerned and the Football Association of Wales have been restored at last.

The FAW has withdrawn its appeal against last year's High Court decision that Newport AFC, of the Beazer Homes League, and the UniBond League outfit, Colwyn Bay, may continue to play in the English non-League pyramid. A settlement regarding costs has also been reached.

David Hando, the Newport chairman, and his Colwyn Bay counterpart met FAW officials last week to discuss the way forward, now that both clubs are members of the FAW once again. "We have re-established good relations," Hando said yesterday. "The FAW now understands that, if we are to join the League of Wales, it must be our choice to do so. We will not be coerced into anything against our will."

Colwyn Bay and Newport were obliged to leave both the FAW and their own grounds when they, and other clubs, chose to stay in their English leagues rather than join the League of Wales when it started in 1992. After two years spent in exile they returned home in 1994, but the long-term future of both clubs is not yet assured.

One problem that has to be dealt with is the ruling made last year by Fifa, world football's governing body, that both Colwyn Bay and Newport should be playing in the Welsh football pyramid by 1997. Given the High Court judgment contrary to the Fifa ruling, both clubs are content to bide their time. "We might be convinced if the three League clubs [Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham] made the switch - but that is unlikely," Hando said. "However, things might change if Cardiff were relegated to the Conference, or if the Endsleigh League went part-time. Anything can happen..."

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