CLUBS were unable to force the Welsh Premier into scrapping their unpopular 12 club format at their annual meeting in Aberystwyth on Saturday.
Montgomeryshire’s last remaining top flight members, Newtown, were among the clubs who urged a re-think amidst dwindling attendance figures and claims of fixture apathy.
The league have rigidly stuck to the format since the launch two seasons ago, but a majority of clubs are unhappy.
Newtown Football Club secretary Owen Durbridge admitted the lack of local derbies since the demotion of Caersws and Welshpool in 2010 had dealt a blow to attendance figures.
“It has difficult to generate interest for some fixtures, particularly in the instance of playing the same club three or four times a season, but it is up to each club to generate interest,” said Durbridge.
“Obviously it does not reflect well on the national league when gates in the Huws Gray Alliance are better, but of course clubs in that league have more local derbies.”
Although the league made a concession by committing to a consultation process to devise a “league strategy” Durbridge doubted the Welsh Premier would ever revert to a 16 club format in tandem with the rest of the Welsh FA affiliated leagues.
“It is unlikely,” said Durbridge. “The Welsh FA is committed to the current 12 club format and it dominates the Welsh Premier.
“There is no point in blaming the clubs, none of which even voted for a 12 club league when it was proposed in the first place, but the league forced it through anyway.”
Durbridge argued the reduction in numbers had raised the standard of facilities and hoped the club’s supporters would continue to show their loyalty next season.
However he doubted the Welsh Premier would permit an increase in members with the Football Association of Wales committed to funding a 12 club top tier.
“It is important to remember that at first the association wanted a 10 club league,” said Durbridge. “Thankfully that never came to pass but I cannot see the league ever being more than 12.
“There is only so much money coming into the league, which is vital for clubs in maintaining academies, and nobody wants to lose any of that as it helps keep clubs ticking over.
“At the end of the day more members means less money to go around and in that regard it is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.”