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It was with some excitement that I went to a match at Stebonheath Park in December 2011. Llanelli were in great form having lost only three of their eighteen games so far that season and a win against that day’s opponents, Prestatyn Town, would take them to the very top of the Welsh Premier League.
Personally, I was looking forward to seeing former Welsh internationals Jason Bowen on the pitch and Andy Legg in the dugout. Legg resigned from the club late last year following weeks of speculation as to whether he was staying or going. The final straw appeared to be a heavy defeat inflicted by Gap Connah’s Quay, but was likely to be mostly due to building tensions as players went unpaid.
In came Bob Jeffrey as Legg’s replacement. Only a few weeks ago, Jeffrey admitted that the end of this season could see the end of Llanelli AFC. His players have gone many months unpaid and Jeffrey claims to have been unpaid since August. As a result, this season has seen a number of exits at Stebonheath Park, and results have suffered.
This morning at London’s High Court, Llanelli were officially wound up. A tax debt of £21,000 was to be their undoing, a debt which the club disputes. Their argument revolves around the club going amateur at the beginning of the season and as such, they argued, pay-as-you-earn tax was not due. Some of the debt was attributed to VAT though, and as the club had made no attempt to pay any of it, the order was issued. This makes Llanelli AFC the second club to be wound up in the WPL in as many years. After Neath FC’s winding up at the close of the 2011/12 season and today’s decision, south Wales now has few representatives in the Welsh Premier League.
It is understood that the club’s owner, Nitin Parekh, intends to appeal. However this doesn’t appear to have inspired confidence as members of the club are coming together later this week to discuss the formation of a phoenix club.
It seems that Bala Town’s visit to Stebonheath Park on Saturday may have been the last game Llanelli AFC play in their current guise. Bala Town travelled back home after a comfortable five goal to one victory. But in front of a little over two hundred fans, Llanelli AFC would have taken their last bow out of the game. The club that brought Jock Stein to south Wales is no more, and without them, the Welsh Premier League is worse off.
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Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.
Very sad indeed. I can only assume they didn’t pay the £3000 because they knew they’d be forced to pay the rest or be wound-up.
A pheonix club will take years to reach even the two divisions below the WPL…