Going up, staying up: Llangefni promoted to Championship

Llangefni Town FC

Llangefni Town have been promoted to the FAW Championship.

The Welsh Alliance champions secured their place in the new look second tier of Welsh football when the FAW granted the club a Tier 2 certificate for next season.

Bangor City and Porthmadog have both retained their places in the Championship after they were given Tier 2 status following a meeting at the FAW’s headquarters on Wednesday.

Holyhead Hotpsur were also awarded certification, but they’ll be playing in the Welsh Alliance after being relegated from the now-defunct Huws Gray Alliance.

Llangefni were the only Welsh Alliance club to apply for Tier 2 status, having finally clinched the Division One title following last week’s derby win over Anglesey rivals Bodedern Athletic.

As with every other club, they had to meet stringent criteria laid down by Welsh football’s governing body to take their place in the Championship.

A similar ‘licensing’ system has been in use for the Welsh Premier League in recent years – with the third tier set to adopt a certification system next season, despite concern from some clubs that they’ll be unable to meet the FAW’s demands.

But Cefni have strived to stay ahead of the curve – and chairman Alwyn Jones hailed promotion as the moment achieved its five-year plan.

Mr Jones said on Wednesday evening: ”The club was assessed against a number of ground, infrastructure and personnel criteria.”

”A lot of work has been carried out at our Lon Talwrn ground to make sure we meet the required standard as well as maintaining and improving on the excellent facilities we currently have.”

”We have ensured that the correct infrastructure and personnel are in place to take us on to the next level…we have worked extremely hard on and off the pitch to achieve this goal.”

Now that promotion is secure, there could probably be no better way for Chris Roberts’ men to cap off a season to remember at Cae Bob Parry by clinching a treble. Indeed, the league and Cookson Cup winners face Llanrwst United on Saturday in their last game of the season – the Mawddach Cup final (2pm ko, Conwy Borough

Hot on the heels of manager Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s departure on Tuesday, news that Bangor had retained their place in the Championship probably came more as a relief.

Amid the perils of a turbulent season that has seen City face mounting debts, a mass exodus of senior players and fans forming their own breakaway club in protest at the owners, a sudden relegation to the Welsh Alliance could have spelled disaster.

On the pitch, City’s number one priority is still a return to the WPL, having missed out on the first time of asking.

In a brief statement, a club spokesperson said: ”We are delighted with the decision announced by the FAW today. This puts us in good stead for applying for the tier one licence next season.”

Perhaps more of an urgent matter is who will replace Taylor-Fletcher, after he took charge of Llandudno.  City are seeking their fifth manager in just two years – their most recent boss lasted all of six months.

Even before Wednesday’s announcement, Porthmadog have been notably proactive in their preparations for the new look Championship. As early as February, the Traeth club moved to announce reserves boss Sion Eifion Jones as their first team manager from next season.

His predecessor, Craig Papirnyk, was due to stay on in a backroom role, but later decided to leave the club altogether after five seasons in charge. His last campaign saw Port finish third in the HGA.

Key to the criteria of every club playing in the Championship is that the manager must hold a UEFA ‘B’ coaching licence, which Jones does hold. As it happens, he’s also guided Porthmadog’s reserves to both the Welsh Alliance title and the Lock Stock Fireworks Cup this season.

When he takes charge of the first time in August, he’ll be accompanied by Sion Tudur Jones as his assistant with player Ceri James joining the coaching staff, alongside fitness coach Cedri Roberts and physio Lindsay Morris.

Just as Llangefni have accomplished their five year-plan to return to the higher end of Welsh league football, Port chairman Phil Jones has similar ideas – with the top flight in mind.

In February, he told the club’s website: ”We are embarking on a three to five year development plan with the ultimate aim of regaining our place in the Welsh Premier League but also making us more sustainable both on and off the field over the longer term.”

”Running a club, even at second tier level in Wales, is no longer an easy job with increased responsibilities not just on the playing front, but also at backroom level.”

All sixteen clubs, who competed in the Huws Gray Alliance, were granted Tier Two certification, along with Llandudno – relegated from the WPL – and Colwyn Bay, as they end a 35 year exile in the English league system.

Two Welsh National League teams, Brickfield Rangers and Corwen, were also successful – but Brymbo were the only North Walian club refused a certificate. They can appeal the decision later this month.

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