THE FAW'S decision to consign two former giants of Welsh domestic football to the wilderness has been widely condemned.
Meeting on Thursday, the governing body's Council voted 21-3 against allowing phoenix clubs AFC Llanelli and Barry Town United to play in the domestic pyramid.
Instead, both clubs will be forced to rejoin at the lowest level via their area associations, a move which could signal the end of the line for Llanelli, who represented Wales in Europe two years ago.
The FAW Council have told Llanelli to apply for membership of the Carmarthenshire League, but manager Bob Jeffrey admits that is unlikely to happen as the club come to terms with this latest hammer blow.
"It is an incredible decision. This wouldn't have happened in any other league in the world," said Jeffrey, who took charge of the Reds midway through last season.
It is a dark day for Welsh football when two clubs with so much history are treated like this. The FAW need to take a long hard look at themselves.
"It is a dark day for Welsh football when two clubs with so much history are treated like this. The FAW need to take a long hard look at themselves.
"We have 120 children in our Academy. Where are those kids going to play their football now? What have they to aspire to?
"A couple of years ago we were playing in Europe against one of the big names of European football, Dinamo Tiblisi. We won and I remember representatives of the FAW being there at Parc y Scarlets enjoying the hospitality and patting us on the back saying how proud they were of the way the club was representing Wales in Europe.
"Last season we could have easily thrown the towel in; the manager left, players weren't getting paid, we could have thrown the league into chaos, but we carried on, fulfilled our fixtures and remained competitive. This is how we are repaid. We had no inkling whatsoever that this was going to happen. It is a real thunderbolt."
Only last month it was revealed that a consortium of businessmen were bidding for the lease of Stebonheath and the social club — the outcome of which Jeffrey said was going to be announced this week.
"It was going to be a good week for the club. We have been in positive negotiations with Llanelli Town Council about the lease of Stebonheath and had lined up £10,000 in sponsorship. A lot of good local people really want to move this club forward. We were just waiting for this decision to be made before we made announcement.
"What happens next, who knows?"
Meanwhile, the Vale of Glamorgan Council said it was "highly disappointed" at the Barry Town decision.
"The council is considering its position in this case matter as we very much recognise the importance of a high standard of football to Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan as a whole," said Cllr Neil Moore in a statement.
"The ramifications of the decision are considerable as the council planned to work with Barry Town United AFC to improve youth football for both boys and girls and to develop improved coaching skills across the various Leagues, who use the Vale’s pitches, to improve the standard of amateur football.
"We will continue to do what we can to promote higher league football at Jenner Park and very much hope that there is still a way of achieving this under the ‘Barry Town’ name."
Barry have pledged to fight their case but Jeffrey says he does not foresee Llanelli applying to join the Carmarthenshire League, where they would come up against the likes of Seaside, Trallwm, Evans & Williams and Dafen.
"I can't see that happening, to be honest," he said. "I am absolutely gutted, gutted for football in the town and the Carmarthenshire area. If there were clubs in the Welsh League who had ambition, the infrastructure, academy system to take our place, then fine. But there aren't and the fact that only one club applied for promotion to the Premier this season says it all.
This is a disgraceful decision and the people who have made it should hang their heads in shame.
"This is a disgraceful decision and the people who have made it should hang their heads in shame."
On the issue of the lease of Stebonheath, town clerk Mel Edwards said: "The town council had reached an agreement in principle with Red Leisure which is one of the organisations that expressed interest in taking on the social club and the football facilities at Stebonheath. But now that we've had this news we have to consider the implications, as do Red Leisure of course.
"We are hoping to speak again early next week to see what the implications of the FAW's decision are."