NEWLY-PROMOTED Rhayader Town have made the shock decision to resign from the Huws Gray Cymru Alliance on the eve of the new season, due to concerns about the travelling distances involved.
The Red Kites won Spar Mid Wales League division one title last season and with it promotion to the second tier of the Welsh pyramid, and would have been the most southernly club in the Alliance.
The Radnorshire club held an emergency meeting last Tuesday, and confirmed their decision to withdraw from the league on Thursday morning - just a fortnight before the start of the new season.
“Rhayader have unfortunately had to withdraw from the Huws Gray Cymru Alliance,” confirmed a club statement.
“This is a decision that hasn’t been taken lightly, and we have explored every avenue to try and fulfil our commitments.
“For several seasons, travelling commitments in this league have become a burden and this year it has come to a head, with the realisation that players do not want to travel what can be 324 mile round trips to play a game of football.
“We apologise to all the clubs that our decision has affected, but we will come back stronger and accept any punishment that the league and FAW sanction. Whatever happens we will still be playing football this season.”
Last week the club had confirmed that joint managers Jason Samuel and Gareth Hughes had both expressed their intent to step down after their success last season.
They had reportedly contacted over 35 local players who were unwilling to commit to making the long journeys to north Wales, with Caersws, Guilsfield and Penrhyncoch being the only other mid Wales clubs at that level.
The club is still hoping to run two sides next season, with a senior team in the second division of the Spar Mid Wales League - and a reserve team continuing in the Mid Wales League South.
Spar Mid Wales League secretary Phil Woosnam, however, believes that it is doubtful whether the club would now be allowed to enter that league at this stage.
Meanwhile, Rhayader’s decision has renewed calls for structural reforms of the Welsh football pyramid, with mid Wales clubs currently having to travel excessive distances.