A ROW has broken out over the location of live crowd event trials in Wales as the country prepares for the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies and Darren Millar, MS for Clwyd West, criticised the Welsh Government after none of the nine trials it is holding to ensure the safe return of audiences have been scheduled in the region. Events with limited live crowds include football matches, festivals and theatre events in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Powys from May 12 to June 11.

Plaid Cymru members in Wrexham had also launched a petition after Wrexham AFC had not been included on the list for any of its remaining fixtures this season.

“There are nine trial events on the list and every single one of them are in South Wales, with the people of North Wales missing out yet again,” Mr Millar said. “Just like people in South Wales, they have greatly missed being able to attend live events during the pandemic and I cannot see why they too could not have benefited from this pilot with trials also taking place here in North Wales."

Mr Davies said: "It's pleasing to see spectator trials given the green light, but ministers should correct the one glaring error in the plan and ensure there are pilots in north Wales, not just concentrated in the south."

The pilot scheme includes Eid-al-Fitr with up to 500 people in Cardiff and Newport County AFC’s League 2 Play Off fixture, which take place in May, and the Fishguard Triathlon in June.

The Welsh Government said the events were selected following a discussion between its test events project board and event owners. A testing protocol and risk assessment will be tailored for each event.

Last summer trials for outdoor events included shows at Theatr Clwyd in Flintshire and a rally at Anglesey Circuit, which were allowed up to 100 spectators according to social distancing restrictions.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The selection of events to be included in the proposed pilot programme was made on the basis of discussion with venues, local authorities and event organisers, seeking spread across types of event and locations across Wales. Managing a safe and successful test events programme will hopefully allow larger gatherings back to stadia, theatres and other venues in Wales.

“We will provide more clarity for the events sector on Friday when we confirm the latest changes as part of the 21-day review process.”

Lesley Griffiths, MS for Wrexham, said criticism of the organisation of the live crowd event trials is “misinformation” and “peddling the myth” that North Wales is left out of major sporting and cultural events.

“The sniping from the side-lines and misinformation circulating largely on social media has been extremely disappointing,” she said. “Many online seem to have jumped to their own conclusions without knowing all the facts.

"Peddling the myth that 'nothing happens in North Wales' is tiresome and wrong.

"Test events have taken place at Theatr Clwyd in Mold and are scheduled to take place on Anglesey.

“From a footballing perspective, the Welsh Government has granted special dispensation for teams in the playoffs to allow fans to return as part of these latest test events.

"The major difference is Newport and Swansea have already guaranteed their playoff positions. Wrexham still have four games left to play and I sincerely hope the team secures their spot.

"I have been informed discussions have taken place between Welsh Government officials, Wrexham AFC and the Local Authority regarding a possible playoff match.”

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, who revealed the live event trials on Tuesday, May 11, said: “It’s been a long and difficult 18 months for the events industry in Wales – for event owners, those who depend on the sector for the work - and for those who long to see the return of live events to Wales. As we look at lifting the coronavirus restrictions in Wales we have worked closely with event organisers to establish a list of pilot test events which take in a range of different locations and types of event.

“These events are very different in nature and location but access of attendees – whether participants or spectators – is strictly controlled by the organisers and agreed in advance.

“This work is bringing us a step closer to a return to events in Wales, I’d like to thank these event owners and Local Authorities and Health Boards for their commitment in working with us and wish them well over the summer.”