No CEO, no managerial certainties, and no shortage of uncomfortable headlines.
No wonder questions arise as to whether the Football Association of Wales (FAW) is somehow in crisis.
Qualifiers for Qatar 2022 begin this week, but the Middle East bid begins with Welsh football embroiled in its most difficult off-field period in years.
Still, things on the ground remain as good as ever – and within the governing body, the message is business as usual.
So what’s the state of the football nation?
Who makes the decisions ?
If it’s business as usual, then it’s without a clear leader at its helm.
Jonathan Ford will officially step down at the end of the month after 11 years at the helm, although the reality is he’s already gone.
A former Coca-Cola marketing manager, Ford had his criticisms even before he started, but has since been credited with putting some sparkle in the game in Wales.
Certainly, the statement that confirmed her exit listed a series of accomplishments that made you wonder why she would be shown the door.
Still, there were those who complained about Ford’s control over the association and grumbling against its attempts to streamline the decision-making process, with less power for the traditional FAW board.
There was also the dissatisfaction of representatives of the elite, apparently growing during the pandemic with accusations of lack of communication and support.
In the end, it was the appointment of the new “People’s Leader” Angela van den Bogerd that brought about Ford’s downfall, via an overwhelming vote of no confidence from the FAW Council.
No successor has been named, but one will be sought – with signals so far indicating more of a “footballer” than the man he will replace.
In the meantime, the officers at the head of the FAW Council – led by President Kieran O’Connor – will continue to make key decisions on Welsh football, with heads of the various FAW departments keeping pace.
What needs to be treated?
Anyone who enters will have plenty of them in their baccalaureate.
The season has been canceled below elite level as Welsh government restrictions continue.
Still, the FAW is under pressure to help defend the fan return case. The lack of door receipts has hurt the clubs, but the lack of sold-out crowds to watch the national team has also taken a toll on the association’s own finances which fuel the base.
At some point this year they were to suffer a loss of Â£ 3million. Ford at one point called the situation dire, although subsequent funding from the Welsh government helped.
Then there’s the issue of this summer’s euros, with some plans on hold due to the pandemic and UEFA’s uncertainty over venues. Wales had prepared to be based in Baku, but knew that plans could still be left hanging for some time.
Wales have received a lot of praise for their preparations for Euro 2016 and, with much of the same team behind the scenes still in place, it is certain that they will be able to ensure that the team is unaffected by what ultimately happens on the outside. of their control.
And the managers?
Until last week, the two Wales national teams could not know who would be in the dugout for matches beyond this month.
Friday, the former English assistant Gemma Grainger has been appointed as the person who will lead Sophie Ingle et al in the 2023 Women’s World Cup campaign. Grainger replaces Jayne Ludlow, with some members of the association saying a change was needed after missing out on qualifying for the Women’s World Cup. ‘next summer.
The recruiting process was not too affected by the instability at the top, with the executive committee and council making the decision as they normally would.
If that’s fixed, there’s still the problem with male manager Ryan Giggs. The former international is currently on bail until May 1 having denied an allegation of assault brought against him.
As happened in November, assistant Robert Page stepped in to take over temporarily after it was “mutually agreed” that Giggs should not be involved.
That said, Page admitted that Giggs retains a contribution to the squad and squad selection through regular conversations.
Page said the November results – which saw Wales reach No. 1 in the Nations League as well as almost guaranteeing a World Cup qualifier – show the players were not unduly affected .
However, as the FAW waits for the situation to play out, no one knows if Giggs will be able to lead the squad to the Euro which starts in Baku on June 12 against Switzerland.
It is understood that there is already a âPlan Aâ and a âPlan Bâ for the summer, Page having impressed in his interim role.
What they said …
Former Wales coach Jayne Ludlow: “It would be nice to talk about football but the FAW, and I’m sitting here as a former employee, stands for integrity above anything else, and at the moment it’s not very clear, it’s not coming out in abundance.
“For me that should be first and foremost in the way everything is done, so it would be nice to talk about football.
“The players have had difficult circumstances to deal with but they trust the coaches and if we focus on football the coaches have made some good decisions.”
Interim Manager Robert Page: “When the players show up on Sunday they won’t be focused on Jonathan Ford’s position, they won’t be too concerned about Ryan’s position.
“I will be talking to the group on Sunday as I did at the November camp. We have proven that what we did in November was a success and there is no reason this camp should not be the same .
âWe have a great group of players, they are ultimate professionals and they will continue as usual.
“I can understand the concerns of the fans, but right now there is a group of employees no different than November who will be taking the games and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Former Welsh captain Kevin Ratcliffe: “This is a strange situation Page is in, having to answer questions that he shouldn’t be answering.
“The FAW should answer the questions to clarify everything. It’s not good at the moment with the situation Ryan Giggs finds himself in and the departure of Jonathan Ford.
“This is happening at an important time for Wales with the summer tournament and the World Cup qualifiers, so it’s a little negative at the moment, too negative for me.”
The start of the Men’s World Cup qualifiers and the installation of Gemma Grainger as manager of the Women’s National Team will temporarily distract from those who make decisions at the top of the Football Association of Wales.
They moved quickly enough to replace Jayne Ludlow. Rob Page showed in November that he is more than capable of leading the national team in the absence of Ryan Giggs. Yet all of this is only temporary.
In the months to come, attention will return to the decision makers at the top of the game in Wales and the diligent staff who fulfill their orders.
The organization is currently lacking one person in their senior administrative position. A figurehead, a guide in unprecedented times.
Jonathan Ford’s departure as chief executive leaves a huge void. He had a business background, but was also a follower of world football politics. A replacement is needed very soon.
Ford’s exit exposed the paradox at the heart of the question of football governance in Wales.
His departure was prompted by a vote of no confidence in him by the ruling FAW council, made up of elected councilors and life members largely drawn from the grassroots of Welsh football.
In this scenario, they had a much bigger role – they were ‘shareholders’ of a multi-million pound company.
They carry a heavy burden. Welsh football has developed rapidly over the past 20-30 years on and off the pitch.
The coming months could determine whether the FAW as the governing body overseeing this continued transformation is an organization still fit for purpose.