A WOMEN’S football club who were dumped out of Wales’ top national league despite finishing fourth have had their hopes of a return to the top flight boosted by a £32,866 grant to upgrade their floodlighting.

Abergavenny Women FC were controversially kicked out of the top flight as part of an FAW league restructure in May, in a move that was widely slammed as “unfair” by politicians, councillors and football fans.

The FAW also removed Cascade and Britton Ferry, replacing the trio with a club that didn’t have a team last season – The New Saints – and a team that has never legitimately won promotion – Barry United.

The review essentially said that Abergavenny Women FC’s infrastructure, including its talent development pathways, were inferior to the successful Tier 1 contenders - claims that were rejected by the club, who said it was “completely unjust” to demote them after finishing fourth.

MPs and some 12 Senedd members agreed, calling for a rethink on the FAW changes, while more than 2,500 people signed a petition demanding an independent review.

However the FAW refused to back down, with Abergavenny forced to start the new season in Tier 2 in Adran League South.

And if they top the table at the end of the season, they will need to meet ground and other criteria set out by the FAW to be considered for promotion.

The floodlight upgrade, which is hoped to be completed by November, could help them, and club secretary Stuart Summers said they are “absolutely thrilled” by the news.

“We have had a difficult summer after being demoted, so to receive this news is a real shot in the arm,” he said.

“The floodlights will give us the option of playing mid-week games which we have never had before.

“It’s a big step towards getting our tier one status back, providing we are able to win the league.”

The upgrade of the floodlights to LED lighting will also enable the club’s U19 side to play on a Friday evening at the ground, and the U16 team to play mid-week.

Currently the U19 team have to travel to Abertillery to play games at the leisure centre.

Mr Summers said there would be benefits for all of the community who use the ground.

“LED lighting will be more eco-friendly and it will bring a 35 per cent saving on electricity,” he added.

“It’s better for the local community and for the team, giving us 25 years worth of floodlighting.”

The upgrade is being funded by a grant of £27,800 from the Welsh Ground Improvements Fund – a joint venture run between the FAW and Welsh Football Trust – and a contribution of £5,066 from Monmouthshire County Council.

Mr Summers said the funding award is positive news for women’s football.

“This is the first time in Welsh football that a women’s side has been awarded a grant to upgrade its floodlighting,” he said.

“It’s a massive boost for women’s football, certainly in Abergavenny and Monmouthshire.”