MS insists Wrexham AFC entitled to fair share of financial support

Wrexham AFC should not miss out on UK Government support just because it is located in Wales.

That is the view of Wrexham’s Member of the Senedd, Lesley Griffiths, who has been seeking to address the discrepancies after the Wrexham Supporters Trust announced it had been informed Wrexham AFC would be excluded from the latest support helping sporting clubs deal with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision, revealed at the end of January, meant Wrexham AFC would be the only club out of the 66 other National League members not to be eligible for support due to being located in Wales.

After being contacted by constituents, Lesley Griffiths MS has met with Wrexham AFC directors and made urgent representations to the Welsh Government, Sport England and the UK Government.

Ms Griffiths has received a response from the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas.

The Deputy Minister confirms the Welsh Government was unaware the club would not be entitled to support through Sport England via the UK Government’s Sports Winter Survival Package until after its own funding support was announced.

The Welsh Government is currently assisting Wrexham AFC.  Officials have contacted the club’s directors to gain a better understanding of the situation and hope to be able to highlight avenues of support that can be offered to the club.

Ms Griffiths also wrote to Sport Wales who suggested contacting the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport.  An urgent letter was sent to the Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden MP, on 3 February.  As of 22 February, Ms Griffiths has yet to receive a response.

In November 2020, the UK Government announced the £300m Sport Winter Survival Package to help spectator sports in England.  Up to £11m was outlined to support National League clubs, with a further £10m being made available to clubs in Wrexham’s league via National Lottery funding.

The UK Government’s own press releases welcoming the funding stated the 66 clubs in the fifth and sixth tiers of the English football pyramid would benefit and that it would work with the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FAs to ensure similar initiatives would take place across the UK.

Lesley Griffiths MS said: “As I have stated from the beginning, I believe Wrexham AFC should be treated like every other club in the National League and I am determined to ensure the club doesn’t slip through the cracks.

“It was quite clear when announcing the support, the UK Government stated all 66 clubs would benefit.  The apparent implication was that this funding would support National League clubs and the fact Wrexham AFC is based in Wales did not appear to be an overriding factor.

“While it has been widely reported the recent takeover has improved the club’s financial outlook considerably, it is the principle of that matter that is important.  Wrexham AFC is just as deserving of the financial support as any other National League club and shouldn’t miss out due to its geographical location.

“After writing to the Welsh Government on the matter, I am grateful officials are actively engaging with the club and looking to find solutions.  I also contacted Sport England and made urgent representations to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP, at the beginning of this month.  I am yet to receive Mr Dowden’s response but as soon as I receive further information, I will share it with the club and constituents.”