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Airbus UK Broughton: Secretary blasts delays in hearing Neath appeal as Wingmakers wait to discover Europa League play-off opponents

AIRBUS UK Broughton have labelled ‘farcical’ the fact they may not know who their Europa League play-off opponents are until three days before the game is played.

The Wingmakers qualified for the knockout end-of-season competition by winning the Play-off Conference, made up of the bottom six Welsh Premier League clubs.

But with the first round due to take place on May 6 or 7, Airbus may not find out who their opponents are until next Wednesday, leaving them just three days to either organise transport to face Prestatyn or, more difficult, arrange match sponsors, stewarding, volunteers, staff and catering for a home game against Aberystwyth Town.

Those difficulties have been compounded by the fact Airbus have yet to receive their Welsh Cup £5,000 prize money one month after being knocked out of the semi-final.

The cause of their play-off uncertainty is Neath.

The club finished third in the Welsh Premier League, placing them in the play-offs for Wales’ final Europa place.

But three weeks ago the club was denied a domestic licence, the accreditation needed to allow them to play not just in next season’s Welsh Premier, but also the Europa League.

Neath failed on financial health grounds and their appeal will be held tomorrow.

But according to Airbus secretary Phil Bailey, the independent licensing panel may not announce their decision until Wednesday.

If Neath are awarded a licence, Airbus go to Prestatyn. If not, they will host Aberystwyth.

“It’s farcical, a total farce,” said Bailey. “I’m not sure why there is an appeal. Rhyl were ejected for financial reasons so I don’t think Neath have a leg to stand on.

“It is unsatisfactory because it puts us in a difficult position.

“We have to plan for either an away trip or a home game in three days. This could have been sorted out a week ago one way or the other.

“Across the border in England two weeks ago in the Evo-Stik league Northwich Victoria were told they would face league sanctions. Just 10 days later those sanctions were enforced and Vics were relegated a division.

“I don’t know why we have to wait almost a month for the FAW to sort this out. The delay is not helping us.

“It hurts that clubs like Airbus try to do things properly and meet all the standards the FAW demands and other clubs spend beyond their means and finish near the top only to have all this fuss at the end of the season. It’s a joke.

“It would be slightly easier if we had received the Welsh Cup money but no-one seems to be able to do anything in a timely fashion in this league.”

Meanwhile, manager Andy Preece has been charged by the FAW for his dismissal from the sidelines in a Welsh Premier League match against Port Talbot at the start of the month. Airbus plan to lodge an appeal.