- Cardiff City
- Swansea City
- Newport County
- Wrexham AFC
- The New Saints
- Colwyn Bay
- Merthyr Town
- Bangor City
- Airbus UK Broughton
- Newtown AFC
- gap Connah’s Quay
- Aberystwyth Town
These are arguably Wales’ elite football clubs and, for me, this is a league I’d fully support.
Now please don’t take the following as a Wrecsam fan’s overreaction at the poor start to the season we’ve had. In fact, this idea hasn’t even stemmed from my club’s inability to negotiate promotion back into the English Football League.
This has been something I’ve wished to see for many years. I even created this league on Football Manager to see how it’d work. It took hours of editing (as well as hours of moaning when I couldn’t take Wrecsam higher than third) but it worked. It felt homely.
Going on current Welsh Premier rules where the league is split (much like in Scotland), the promise of European football is the obvious carrot.
The champions of the Welsh Premier League qualify for the UEFA Champions League with the second placed team qualifying for the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. The teams in places 3 to 7 then play off for the second Europa League place. A place in the second round of the Europa League is also awarded to the winners of the Welsh Cup. If the winners of the Welsh Cup have already qualified for Europe via their league placing (e.g., finishing first and winning the Cup) the eighth placed team comes in to the playoff.
For teams like the exiled clubs, is the possibility / probability of European football (perhaps with increased chances of success) not enough to entice Welsh clubs back to the Welsh system?
How might Wales’ UEFA coefficient look with a good (and consistent) European run by Welsh teams? Who knows, maybe the top two Welsh teams would eventually be offered Champions League qualification ultimately leading to more offered the Europa League places!?!
Were Merthyr Town and Colwyn Bay to join the Welsh Premier they would almost certainly be challenging for the title. Adding Newport and Wrexham would further add to a higher level of competition in Wales. Cardiff vs Swansea would be world-renowned once again as an enticing and, more importantly, regular fixture.
If the lack of England-Wales battles on a weekly basis would be seen as a loss to fans, could a compromise be negotiated that exiled clubs still be included in English FA Cup, League Cup, FA Trophy & Vase competitions etc? At the end of the day, there’s always a trip across the border for TNS games!
This idea beyond farfetched, I’m aware. The financial implications of joining a ‘lesser’ league would be felt by all returning exiles. It’s highly unlikely that the idea would be initially attractive to owners of the larger exiled clubs.
I do, however, believe that European promise coupled with a constant weekly Cambrian face-off would bring in the fans – much like the Scottish leagues do. In my view, raising the Welsh system to a Scottish level through including Wales’ best teams promises bums on seats as well as improving the provision of Welsh teams across the nation.
And if you’re against this idea, fair enough. There are plenty of arguments against it. But if I might offer one final plea….
Choose a Welsh Premier League team. Follow their results. Go to a game or two. Buy a scarf and show it off. Whether our exiles team ever join our league or not, the least we can do is put Welsh football on the map in its current state. We can all do our bit to raise our nation’s prestige in the footballing world – whether our best teams are there or not.