A SIGNIFICANT referee shortage forced the entire Vale of Clwyd and Conwy League fixture list to be postponed last weekend.

Every fixture within the Premier Division was held back due to the ongoing issue, with sources stating the lack of flexibility of referees officiating at a higher standard normally and their unwillingness to drop down divisions due to the possibility of an increased level of abuse from players and spectators.

Rhuddlan Town manager Wayne Hughes, who has led his side to the top of the standings following a sensational start to the campaign, stated he “had never seen anything over the top”, and hopes this is just a “one-off” for the league’s fortunes.

He said: “It is a massive shame for our league.

“I’ve heard referees saying they wouldn’t ref in lower leagues because of the abuse they would get, but I’ve seen from many teams in our league how much respect we all have.

“We all like a little moan at decisions but I have never seen anything over the top.

“Fingers crossed this is a one off for everyone involved.”

This is something that has been increasingly evident across the region since the start of the season, with games up to Lock Stock Welsh Alliance Division Two falling victim of postponements after a failure to arrange the necessary officiating for the games to go ahead.

In addition to the possible abuse reasoning, the Journal understands that many of the referees are finding it difficult to transition over to the new Comet registration system implemented by the Football Association of Wales due to familiarity with the “paper” system and the lack of sufficient training.