HMP Prescoed FC, the only prisoner football team in Wales, have been refused the opportunity to play in the Gwent Central League next season, sparking a campaign to have them readmitted.

The club have played for more than twenty seasons in the league and are made up of serving prisoners from an open jail.

Their football pitch has previously been used by Bobby Gould’s Wales squad for training, Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine and even Valencia trained there in preparation for their Europa League tie against Swansea in 2013.

Now it appears that the team and the pitch may be no more, unless there is a change of heart by the Gwent County FA, who will hear the club’s appeal on October 15.


News of Prescoed’s ban has even reached one of Wales’s greatest players, Neville Southall, who trained at Prescoed during the Gould era.

He said: "Football for HMP Prescoed FC is a living, breathing example of how sport can unite people as equals on the field of play.

"It has the power to transcend sport as a powerful agent of peace. Games of football between teams at Prescoed, and their league opposition, show us how we can appreciate and embrace our rivalries, while also treating each other with respect.

"It is my sincere hope that Prescoed are allowed back into the league to compete as equals."

In a letter to the club explaining their decision, the league have cited their concerns over the age of players from visiting teams, who may be under eighteen. The League are also unhappy that all of Prescoed’s games have to be played in the prison, home and away.

Jamie Grundy, who spent a season with the team for his book ‘90 Minutes of Freedom’, said: “Any opposition player under eighteen is allowed into the prison if they are accompanied by an appropriate adult, such as a senior player or coach.

"Prescoed have to play all their games at home, but this has never been an issue in the previous twenty years, so why now?

"It is a fantastic playing surface for both teams. I feel Prescoed are being punished for being Wales’s only prisoner team.”

He has set up an online campaign to support Prescoed’s readmission into the league:

For the players being a part of Prescoed FC is often the first time in their lives they’d ever had to think about working with others. Football is used by the prison to give prisoners a glimpse of their life before jail, in the form of a gradual return to normality.

Football is more than just a game to the Prescoed players, as it helps them to control their behaviour and develop important social skills. They follow the rules of the prison, the instructions of the PE staff and the laws of the game, if they want to play on a Saturday.

The prisoners at Prescoed are all in the last two years of their sentence and are risk assessed continually.

They are deemed ‘low-risk’ and more than half of the two hundred men have jobs, either on or off camp, and only return to their cell in the evening. Prescoed even has its own dairy farm and timber mill at the nearby Cilwrgi Farm.

The emphasis of the prison is on reducing reoffending through a mixture of positive experiences, such as sport or employment..