FSA Cymru update: December 2020
Posted on 14th December 2020
Welcome to FSA Cymru’s December 2020 update…
Tuesday November 19th 2019, a victory against Hungary at the Cardiff City stadium in front of 31,762 spectators, was the last time we saw our beloved Wales play a competitive match. That’s 13 months and it looks likely that there may still be issues in March when the next international window opens. There will be three matches scheduled for March following an UEFA decision shown below:
“The UEFA Executive Committee decided, after an agreement with the European Club Association and the European Leagues, to recover the dates lost due to the cancellation of the March 2020 window and the postponement of EURO 2020 to the summer of 2021, by extending the March and September 2021 windows in the FIFA international match calendar so that three matches instead of two could be accommodated. This solution has already been implemented, with FIFA’s approval, for the international windows of October and November 2020.”
Wales are in a five team group so will have to play friendlies on the spare match dates, here are our possible opponents:
- March 27-28: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Northern Ireland
- September 1-2: Finland, Greece, Switzerland
Fans returning to watch matches
It is a very contentious issue here in Wales but the Welsh Assembly and Mark Drakeford are erring on the side of caution, particularly when it comes to the fans returning to the stadiums.
Sporting bodies throughout Wales are anxious for some sort of compromise, something comparable to what is currently happening in England, in order to start the safe return of fans to sporting events.
Here is the letter jointly composed and signed by a variety of Sporting bodies throughout Wales. A vaccine programme started on 8th December and with it comes hope that things can eventually return to some sort of normality. That is the hope we must hang on to, although it still seems a long way off.
If fans are allowed into home games in March, its highly likely that numbers will be limited and possibly still a ban of foreign travel but being optimistic about things we will start planning meetings with the FAW in order to come up with a fair and transparent system to calculate who gets hold of any available tickets, whether they be for home games (most likely) or the outside chance of away games.
Membership is still open to everyone and it’s possible, but not confirmed, that members may get priority. Looking at other nations and systems they used then a ballot is most likely and those who get chosen for a game can’t then apply to go into the ballot for the next game, but its all speculation at the moment, although it is something that needs careful consideration.
There were 10 pots or groups in the qualifying draw, with 55 teams involved. Only 13 can qualify for the finals in winter 2022, the 10 group winners plus three from the play-offs. The play-offs will be contested by the 10 runners-up in each group plus the two best Nation League sides. Wales are currently fifth in line so if three of the four in front of them automatically qualify for the finals then Wales will be allocated a play-off place, unless of course we have already qualified. The four teams in front of us are Italy, Belgium, France and Spain.
So, we have an excellent chance of, at the very least, reaching the play offs. That will involve 12 teams, drawn into three groups of four. Each group will host semi-finals and a final which will result in three group winners. They will join the 10 already qualified, to make up the 13 European entries. Fans wondering about the value of the Nations League can now make sense of it, having already benefitted Scotland in the Euros it may well come to the rescue of Wales in the World Cup. Either way we are promoted to the top table of European football for the next Nations League.
The schedule for the games has been favourable for the fans who like to travel away, with Belgium our away game in March and the other away games later next year. This should make it more likely that Welsh fans can travel again, let us hope so anyway.
Wales’ Group E fixtures
- Belgium vs Wales – Wednesday 24 March – 7:45pm
- Wales vs Czech Republic – Tuesday 30 March – 7:45pm
- Belarus vs Wales – Sunday 5 September – 2pm
- Wales vs Estonia – Friday 8 September – 7:45pm
- Czech Republic vs Wales – Friday 8 October – 7:45pm
- Estonia vs Wales – Monday 11 October – 7:45pm
- Wales vs Belarus – Saturday 13 October – 7:45pm
- Wales vs Belgium – Tuesday 16 November – 7:45pm
The opponents by the host association and/or by the confederation, as applicable, must inform everyone of the venue at least three months before the match in question is due to be played. In principle, the venue is to be located no further than 150km away from the nearest international airport, which shall not exceed a maximum two-hour drive.
We would just like to end by wishing you all a very merry Christmas, it has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone, albeit successful as far as Wales are concerned, with a run of consecutive victories in competitive games and a plethora of young, exciting players coming through, so every reason to be positive going into the new year.