AN online petition demanding an independent review into the FAW’s under-fire revamp of women’s football could lead to a full debate in the Senedd if 10,000 people sign up.

Abergavenny Women FC - who are set to be kicked out of the top-flight next season despite finishing fourth best team in the country - have urged football fans and those who want “fair play” to get behind it.

And the launch of the Senedd petition yesterday (Thursday) by Pennies player Mali Summers, calling for the selection process “to ensure transparency, equality and fairness”, follows cross-party calls in the Assembly for an FAW rethink, with 10 Senedd members signing a joint statement.

The Chronicle broke the story just over two weeks ago that Abergavenny Women FC were going to be demoted under the FAW’s new Tier 1 and Tier 2 league system, in spite of their performances on the pitch.

The FAW tried to embargo the news until Abergavenny had played their last game of the season - a dogged 0-0 draw away to table-toppers Swansea City, who needed a point to secure the Welsh Premier League title.

But we revealed that the club had been given the “devastating” news that their on-field performances counted for little in the brave new world being planned by the FAW, which is set to parachute a club without a women’s team (The New Saints) and a club that has repeatedly failed to win promotion (Barry United) into the top tier at the Pennies’ and two other teams’ expense.

The FAW says the teams knew that the remit of the review would include off-field infrastructure and planning, and says none of them raised an issue with it.

But many clubs beside the three facing demotion - Abergavenny, Cascade and Britton Ferry - plus fans, football blogs and politicians have cried foul over what many see as an “unjust” decision, with rock-bottom Aberystwyth, who have won one game in the last two seasons, set to be spared relegation.

The Pennies are urging people to sign the petition, posting: “Let’s get this sorted the right way. Please sign and share far and wide. To all those who have supported us now we really need you.”

And they called on the FAW to accept the need for transparency, saying: “If people were questioning my integrity I think I would welcome an independent review. Show the public that you have nothing to hide.”

Monmouth MP and Westminster Government Welsh Office minister David Davies, who visited one of the club’s training sessions last week, slammed the FAW’s handling of the whole affair as a “complete farce” in his column in this week’s Chronicle.

And South Wales East Senedd member Laura Anne Jones, who lives in Monmouth, ramped up the pressure when she and others raised the matter in the Senedd on Tuesday, calling for Welsh Government ministers to intervene.

She urged Welsh sports minister Dawn Bowden: “As the FAW, through the Sports Council for Wales, receives significant money from the Welsh Government, it is therefore right that the deputy minister now intervenes…

“Teams across my region had been left disheartened and baffled by recent FAW announcements."

She added: “Abergavenny Women’s FC have been in the Welsh top-flight for the best part of the last decade and despite finishing fourth this season, they have been inexplicably relegated at the stroke of an administrator’s pen.

“This decision means that there is no team from the whole of South East Wales in the top league and that has united politicians of all colours, across the region to fight this unfairness.

“The FAW need to be crystal clear on how they have come to this decision, and provide full transparency to the clubs that have been victims of this process.

“We all want Welsh Women’s football to grow and succeed with facilities that that are fit for purpose, but fairness has to be at the heart of sport.

“This process has been anything but, and has been both unfair and unjust. We need to see that reversed especially during this transitional year and what will be a seismic shift in the women’s game.”

She has been backed by Monmouth MS Peter Fox, who has called the Pennies’ demotion a “devastating blow” and says the local community is rightfully “outraged”.

Welsh Conservative Shadow sports minister Tom Giffard and Labour Caerphilly MS Hefin David, who represents the constituency of Cascade, also criticised the FAW stance in the Senedd.

Mr David said "the FAW’s ineptitude had done the service in this chamber of bringing together the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Labour party".

And others across cross-party lines have also had their say, Plaid Cymru South Wales East MS Delyth Jewell saying the FAW decision was “heart-breaking” and could have a significant impact on grassroots women’s football.

They and Plaid’s Sioned Williams, Luke Fletcher and Peredur Owen Griffiths, Labour’s David Rees and Lib Dem Jane Dodds have all signed a joint statement calling for the decision to be reversed.

An FAW spokesman responded: “The FAW has been transparent with the clubs in terms of how much weighting was given to sporting merit from the beginning.

“The clubs never challenged that when the FAW was taking them through what they were being assessed on. Not one club questioned the process," he said.

"The aim of the changes is to make the top levels of the game in Wales more professional, building for the future and developing players and clubs. This is a new start for the league."

But the club thanked those campaigning on its behalf, and said: “It is fantastic that the three main political parties in Wales all unanimously agree that this process needs reviewing. We will keep fighting.”

To sign the Senedd petition calling for “An immediate independent review of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 selection process in the WPWL” go to