By Ashley Cox

BARRY Town's UEFA Europa League preparations continued this week, after the case that threatened to plunge the Welsh domestic game into chaos was thrown out by the High Court.

13-time JD Cymru Premier champions The New Saints had challenged May's decision by the Football Association of Wales (FAW) to curtail the 2019-20 season, a decree that ended some nine years of domestic dominance and handed the title to rivals Connah's Quay Nomads.

The Oswestry-based side argued that aborting the campaign and declaring the Nomads champions with weeks of fixtures to spare had gone against the principle of sporting merit and even proposed a unique play-off match to settle the matter on the field.

Among their key objections was the fact the professional Saints had actually led the league at its January split, a point by which the entire division had already played each other, home and away.

However, Mr. Justice Marcus Smith dismissed their bid on Monday, freeing the way to Europe for Nomads, Bala and particularly Barry, who could well have been affected by any league restart and its implications on Wales' four European spots.

Had TNS emerged successful, then Caernarfon Town and a handful of other clubs might well have explored their own appeal options; their dreams of achieving European football via the league, Welsh Cup or play-off route brought to an abrupt end on 19th May.

Instead, the FAW's nominated foursome remains unchanged, with Connah's Quay entered into the UEFA Champions League qualifiers for the first time in their history, while TNS, Bala and Barry fly the flag in the Europa League's formative rounds.

With Barry's European foray only their second in 17 seasons, the unseeded Jenner Park outfit will be the first of Wales' representatives to kick off this summer, joining the Europa League's Preliminary Round on 20th August, before TNS and Bala tackle the First Qualifying Round, seven days later.

With signings Nathaniel Jarvis, Curtis Hutson and Michael George bringing freshness to Gavin Chesterfield's Barry squad, the Wales international David Cotterill was among those limbering up for the challenge ahead as his team commenced training at the weekend.

With the cup competitions in Northern Ireland, Andorra and Kosovo still to be completed, it is unlikely that Barry will know all eight of their potential seeded foes until close to the Preliminary Round draw, to be made on 9th August.

However, with the draw for the First Qualifying Round set to take place the following day, Barry will quickly have an idea of their next opponents, should the Town prevail in their tie on 20th August.

Among those in the mix for the First Qualifying Round are Barry's old friends Aberdeen, Valletta and Žalgiris Vilnius, as well the likes of European mainstays Rosenborg, Honvéd and Maccabi Haifa and a couple of European Cup runners-up in Partizan Belgrade and Malmö.

The First Qualifying Round on 27th August, as with the Preliminary Round a week prior, will consist exclusively of one-off matches, to be settled on the day.

Closer to home, the FAW's domestic restructure took further shape last week, with the confirmation of its four new, regional Tier 3 playing divisions.

Dinas Powys will represent the Vale of Glamorgan in the sixteen-team south western league, with Cardiff's Caerau Ely providing their nearest rivals.

With Llantwit Major in the second tier JD Cymru South and Barry approaching a fourth straight campaign in the Cymru Premier, the Vale will be represented in each of the rebranded top three levels of Welsh pyramid football next term, yet the challenges of attracting support in a new, Covid-19 landscape remain unclear.

While Jenner Park in particular seems more than equipped to accomodate effective social distancing for fans on matchdays, restoring Saturday leisure habits may be one of many challenges faced by our local clubs whenever it is the 2020-21 domestic season begins.

For Barry, the boost of any European windfall could be dented by sizeable travel expenses, as well as the potential loss of a season's best capacity crowd.

As ever, it seems, in Welsh football, the battles of clubs off the field remain as fiercely fought as the wars waged on it.