League of Wales

The League of Wales is the national football league for Wales. It was formed in 1992 with nineteen teams, when it was sponsored by Konica Peter Llewellyn Limited of Swansea and was known as the Konica League of Wales. From 2002 the league is named after its new sponsor, the J.T. Hughes Mitsubishi Welsh Premier. The League normally provides three teams for European club competitions (though they invariably do not progress far) -- the League Champions are entered in the UEFA Champions League, the runners-up in the UEFA Cup, and the third place team in the Intertoto Cup. Normally a fourth team is also entered in the UEFA Cup as winners of the Welsh Cup.

Table of contents
1 Composition of the League
2 Former members of the League of Wales
3 Formation of the League of Wales
4 Champions
5 Structure of Welsh Football
6 External link

Composition of the League

Current teams in the Welsh Premier are:
  • Aberystwyth Town F.C
  • Afan Lido F.C
  • Bangor City F.C
  • Barry Town F.C
  • Caernarfon Town F.C
  • Caersws F.C
  • Carmarthen Town F.C
  • Connah's Quay Nomads F.C
  • Cwmbran Town F.C
  • Haverfordwest County F.C
  • NEWI Cefn Druids F.C
  • Newtown F.C
  • (Oswestry Town F.C -- failed to start the 2003/04 season)
  • Port Talbot Town F.C
  • Porthmadog F.C
  • Rhyl F.C
  • Total Network Solutions F.C (also known as TNS and TNS Llansantffraid).
  • Welshpool Town F.C
On
14 August 2003 UEFA reversed its previous decision and sanctioned the merger of TNS and Oswestry Town -- consequently Oswestry did not start the season the following weekend; a new stadium for the merged team is to be built in Oswestry.

On 25 August 2003 Barry Town F.C. went into Administration (a form of bankruptcy), locking-out its professional team and manager from their stadium, and appointing a new management team and part-time players for the remainder of the season; Barry's survival as a top-level team in the League of Wales is in considerable doubt.

Former members of the League of Wales

The requirement that two teams be relegated each year (in abeyance when challenged by Welshpool Town in 2003) has resulted in a rapid turnover of teams in the short period of the League's existence.

The following teams have played in the League at some time:

  • Abergavenny Thursdays F.C (1992-1993)
  • Briton Ferry Athletic F.C (1992-1994, 1995-1997)
  • Cemaes Bay F.C (1995-1998)
  • Conwy United F.C (1992-2000)
  • Ebbw Vale F.C (1992-1998)
  • Flint Town United F.C (1992-1998)
  • Llanelli A.F.C (1992-1996, 1999-2003)
  • Llanidloes Town F.C (1992-1993)
  • Maesteg Park A.F.C (1992-1995)
  • Mold Alexandra F.C (1992-1995)
  • Rhayader Town F.C (1997-2002)
  • Ton Pentre F.C ()
  • UWIC Inter Cardiff A.F.C (1992-2001)

Formation of the League of Wales

The creation of the first national football league for Wales in 1992 was a rather traumatic event. Because of geography, it has always been much easier to travel east-west than north-south, so it was natural for clubs to tend to look east to England for competitors, and the principal non-
Football League teams such a Bangor City and Barry Town played in the English non-League pyramid. In the early 1990s UEFA insisted that clubs should not play in a "foreign" league (and arguments about the United Kingdom being one country do not wash with UEFA because all four countries participate in international competition in their own right), thus came about the creation of the League of Wales. Many of the northern clubs refused to participate in the new league initially, and for a time played their "home" English league games in exile at grounds to the east of the English border. Eventually the new order was accepted, although the presence in the English League of the professional Welsh teams, Cardiff City, Wrexham, and Swansea City, remains an anomaly in the eyes of UEFA, ameliorated only by their being debarred from competing for the Welsh Cup which used to provide one of them with near-guaranteed European competition each year.

Champions

Season Champions Remarks
2002/03 Barry Town
2001/02 Barry Town
2000/01 Barry Town 1st LOW club to win a Champions League match.
Beat FC Shamkir (Azerbaijan)
1999/00 TNS (Llansantffraidd)
1998/99 Barry Town
1997/98 Barry Town
1996/97 Barry Town
1995/96 Barry Town Beat Dinaburg (Latvia), Visutas Budapest (Hungary),
before losing 6:4 on aggregate to Aberdeen.
1994/95 Bangor City
1993/94 Bangor City
1992/93 Cwmbran Town 1st league team to play in Europe.
Lost 4-4 on away goals to Cork City

Structure of Welsh Football

The top of the Welsh Pyramid is the Welsh Premier, which is the only national league in Wales. Below it is the second tier of leagues, each covering roughly half the country. The south of the country is covered by the Welsh Football League (Division 1) while the north and centre of the country is covered by the Huws Gray Fitlock Cymru Alliance. The champions of each of these leagues can be promoted to the Welsh Premier, subject to acceptable ground facilities, and if the champions cannot meet the criteria the runner-up team may be considered.

Second and lower tier leagues (North Wales)

In the north of the country the Cymru Alliance has only one division, and has a feeder league structure of its own with three regional leagues feeding it -- the Spar Mid Wales League covering Powys and Ceredigion, the Tyn Lon Rover Welsh Alliance covering most of the old counties of Clwyd and Gwynedd, and the Welsh League (Wrexham Area) covering the small region around Wrexham. Again, the champions or runners-up of these leagues can be promoted into the Cymru Alliance, given suitable grounds. Below these third tier leagues are even more localised leagues: in Central Wales there are four leagues feeding into the Mid Wales League (covering Cardiganshire, Montgomeryshire, Mid Wales South, and Aberystwyth areas respectively), while below the Welsh Alliance there are the Gwynedd League and the Clwyd League and these even have feeder leagues of their own such as the Anglesey League. The Wrexham Area League has two lower divisions of its own but no feeder leagues below it.

Second and lower tier leagues (South Wales)

In the south, the CC Sports Welsh League has three divisions all covering the whole of the South Wales geographical area, and it isn't until the 5th tier of the pyramid that local leagues appear. Promotion to, and relegation from the Welsh League is structured, as in the north, on three regional football associations (Gwent FA, South Wales FA, and West Wales FA). Each can send one promoted team into the Welsh League. This is straightforward enough in Gwent, where there is one senior league, the Gwent County League, whose champions (or runners-up) are eligible, if they satisfy Welsh League criteria. (Below the three divisions of the Gwent County, there are local leagues in Newport, East Gwent, Central Gwent and North Gwent...). The South Wales FA area is more complicated however, as this region has managed to have two senior leagues of identical status covering the same area, each with two divisions -- the Thomas Carroll South Wales Senior League and the Regal Travel South Wales Amateur League -- often the champions of these leagues have to play off for the single promotion place to the Welsh League! Below these two leagues are local leagues in the towns and cities of south Wales, the champions of which can confusingly be promoted into EITHER of the higher leagues. The West Wales FA area is the only one not to have set up a senior league in its area - this means that there are four local leagues (Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath) with all their champions potentially having to play off for the one available promotion place. However as few West Wales clubs can face the prospect of the travelling implications of moving up to the Welsh League, this four-way play-off idea is theory rather than practice.

External link

League of Wales website

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