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A state of crisis? The issues facing Wales ahead of World Cup qualifying

Wales v Republic of Ireland – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium
(Image credit: Nigel French)

Wales start their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in Belgium on March 24 and host the Czech Republic in Cardiff six days later.

But Welsh football is currently in a state of crisis with manager Ryan Giggs not attending games and chief executive Jonathan Ford leaving his position at the end of the month.

Here, the PA news agency examines the issues facing Wales just 89 days before their first game at this summer’s delayed Euro 2020 tournament.

What’s happening with Ryan Giggs?

Wales v Hungary – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium

Ryan Giggs celebrated Wales’ qualification for Euro 2020 with a 2-0 home victory over Hungary in November 2019 (Nick Potts/PA)

Everything was looking rosy when Wales qualified for Euro 2020 under Giggs and were top of their Nations League group. But Giggs was then arrested on suspicion of assault on November 1 after a reported row with girlfriend Kate Greville at his Manchester home. The former Manchester United star, 47, denies the allegation and has had his bail extended until May 1, with Greater Manchester Police having passed the file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

So Giggs has not been involved with Wales since?

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Well, he was not physically at Wales’ November games – a drawn friendly against the United States and Nations League wins over the Republic of Ireland and Finland which saw them top their group and secure promotion to the top tier of European football. But Giggs selected the squad and was in daily contact with caretaker boss Robert Page and the rest of the support staff. The same arrangement is in place for Wales’ three March games, according to Page, although the Football Association of Wales said last week Giggs would not be involved in the upcoming camp.

Will this be sorted soon?

Salford City v Harrogate Town – Sky Bet League Two – Peninsula Stadium

Ryan Giggs’ recent watching football brief has been as co-owner of Salford rather than as manager of Wales (Mike Egerton/PA)

That would appear to be in the hands of the CPS. Page says he has had no dialogue with the FAW over what happens this summer. The 46-year-old former Wales captain says those conversations need to be had “further down the road” but time is short with the start of Euro 2020 less than three months away and the practicalities involved in planning for a major tournament.

But the chief executive’s gone too?

Jonathan Ford file photo

Chief executive Jonathan Ford lost the support of the Football Association of Wales council and is to leave his position after 11 years on March 31 (Ben Birchall/PA)

That’s right. The FAW announced last week that Jonathan Ford would be leaving his position on March 31 after 11 years in the post. Ford lost the confidence of the FAW council following several contentious issues behind the scenes, including widespread resentment at the FAW’s failure to adequately support the grassroots game during the Covid-19 pandemic. President Kieran O’Connor is expected to take a more hands-on role before a new chief executive is appointed.