Opinion

Should all of Wales’ football clubs play in Welsh leagues?

14 Jul 2021 4 minutes Read
(Pic by John Smith/FAW)

Evan Powell

“Just saying that you have to be aware that supporting one of 5 clubs who play in England is effectively the same as supporting an English side.”

I’m sure you can imagine that this is a quote from a Tweet I saw yesterday didn’t go down very well. However, it definitely got me thinking about the state of Welsh club football.

This is merely my opinion but I am looking at this from both the perspective of someone who supports a Welsh club in the Welsh pyramid and someone who supports a Welsh club in the English pyramid.

But first, some history and context on the matter. There are currently five Welsh clubs in the English football pyramid. Cardiff City, Swansea City (EFL Championship), Newport County (EFL League 2), Wrexham (National League) and Merthyr Town (Southern Football League).

All of these clubs have played in the English league system since their founding, and all declined to join the newly formed League of Wales (now the Cymru Premier) when it was formed in 1992.

The reason for these clubs playing in setups across the border is simple, there wasn’t a professional football league in Wales. England already had the professional set up so joining makes perfect sense in terms of making money.

Money is what ultimately keeps these clubs playing in England, the FAW simply cannot compete with how huge club football is there compared to what we have now and what was formed in 1992.

It is undeniable that the fans of those five clubs make up a massive bulk of Wales fans home and away. We play our games in Cardiff City’s stadium, you see so many flags of these clubs at matches, singing and chanting their hearts out, very important bricks in the Red Wall you could say.

So you can say these fans are the same as someone who supports Chelsea or Manchester United despite living up the back end of the Rhondda if you want, but I can’t agree.

Ideal world

So should all Welsh clubs play in Wales? In an ideal world, yes. Personally, I would love to see a thriving Welsh set up with as many clubs playing, including the ones playing in England as we speak.

But the world is far from ideal. The Welsh five in England have always played there, and their finances are built around it. To suddenly put them into our pyramid would hammer then, especially the three currently in the EFL.

A case can be made for Wrexham and Merthyr to join as they are both in the English non-league setup.

The Cymru Premier is often compared to be the same level as the National League in terms of skill, but the latter receives higher attendances than the Welsh league.

Factor in the cash provided to the Gog’s from their Hollywood owners, I don’t think you’ll see it. Merthyr aren’t as lucky to have Deadpool and Mac in the boardroom, so could the Martyr’s make the switch?

I know town fans in favour and against, and they seem to be the most probable club to switch, but only time can tell I suppose.

The way I see it, you’d be asking a lot of a fan who is used to trips to the likes of Bristol, Birmingham, Bolton or any of the many clubs you’d come up against watching the five Welsh clubs in the EFL and non-league.

Going from the Severnside derby to Llandudno away sounds like a crazy suggestion to many. But you don’t have a leg to stand on if you’re going to slate the Cymru Premier and below just because you don’t want to see your club there.

It’s far from tinpot, and games aren’t watched exclusively by one man and his dog. Caernarfon’s Cofi Army are proof that amazing atmospheres happen in the Welsh pyramid.

Pyro, drums, non-stop chants, celebrating goals against Bangor like they’ve just seen a Champions League winning goal. Even in the lower tiers, get a few mates together, get to your local and make the atmosphere.

Not only will you love it as a fan, players appreciate it at the lower tiers so much more. The 12th man gets thrown about a lot when talking about football, being it yourself and seeing the difference it makes is just one of many reasons why it’s called the beautiful game.

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This&That
This&That
3 months ago

Yes they should

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
3 months ago
Reply to  This&That

So Cardiff and Swansea who play in front of 5 figure crowds every home game should join a league where they struggle to get 4 Figure crowds, The equivalent of The Highland Football League in Scotland.

Quornby
Quornby
3 months ago

Monaco plays in the French league. It doesn’t really matter…. these are not clubs, they are businesses. That’s why Swansea will always be a nursery for those English clubs that buy their league position every year. Not good and I’ll always be a Swan anyway but don’t expect fairness in finance or from referees at least a third of whom demonstrate regular anti Welsh bias.

Dewi Davies
Dewi Davies
3 months ago

Merthyr is a strange one.I know the local YC branch wanted to put a banner on the boards at the ground but a lot of the committee /board members were dead against it even though the local MP and MS have advertising boards on show.Its known locally as a Unionist club but it does have one or 2 YC members on its board.Im not sure of the out come of the YC banner.Maybe someone can enlighten me on that debate.

Jack
Jack
3 months ago
Reply to  Dewi Davies

Perhaps they fear being chucked out of the English league system in the event of independence? I’d imagine this would be more likely in Merthyr’s case than any of the EFL/National League sides, but still pretty unlikely.

harry ivanopolis
harry ivanopolis
3 months ago

no they should not
leave them as they are

Jack
Jack
3 months ago

I’ve never particularly liked the fact that when Swansea City played in Europe in 2013-14, they were considered an ‘English club’ by UEFA. Official documentation had them recorded as (England) and had the St George’s cross.

You could say it’s a necessary evil as this article does state the benefits of playing in the English system, but it was a bit awkward!

Chris
Chris
3 months ago

Maybe they can join the French leagues.

Richard
Richard
3 months ago

Cross border sport is perfectly normal. Not all English clubs play in England; Berwick Rangers and Tweedmouth play in Scotland, The New Saints are based in Oswestry but play in Wales, as do Newcastle on Clun and Bucknell. Northern Ireland’s Derry City play in the Irish Republic, and Toronto FC play in the United States MLS. All this has been suggested before, it’s entirely a matter for the clubs where they play. The United Kingdom is unusual in that it has different national leagues within it, the Basques and Catalans have to play in a Spanish League, our clubs have… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
3 months ago

Realistically, no-one can expect the current EFL Welsh clubs to transfer, and two of those cities/towns (Cardiff and Wrexham) have smaller clubs in their area that do play in the Cymru Premier, while Swansea University’s team play in the Cymru South. But there’s a very strong case indeed for Merthyr Town to come home; the standard of football would be higher, the travel costs no different and in some instances lower, the possibilty of championship success higher, and the route to European competition shorter. Colwyn Bay did it, and it’s now a less Welsh town than Merthyr Tydfil is.

Welsh independence is for mugs
Welsh independence is for mugs
3 months ago

The Welsh leagues are irrelevant.

Craig
Craig
3 months ago

Ridiculous . I am from Colwyn Bay we played English system for years it was brilliant the standard was decent we played FA Cup qualifying rounds and even made the first and second rounds in mid 90s and had been up as far as the conference north in the last 10 years and unfortunately even the conference north is ahead of the Welsh Premier . The welsh league has been behind the times so much from the off it will never catch up now Cardiff ,Swansea,Newport and Wrexham have huge crowds and away fans bring a lot of them they… Read more »

Notta Bott
Notta Bott
2 months ago

It’s not just money. Take a look at how many players in the current Wales squad are in top leagues and came from an Academy like Swansea. Spurs alone have the Welsh Mafia. The quality of opposition in even the championship rivals that of top leagues all over the world, that is valuable experience for young players, not just for club, but country. Wales internationally benefits greatly from this.

Vaughan
Vaughan
2 months ago

In an ideal world they should and would but things are never that simple.

John Brooks
John Brooks
2 months ago

And of course the Cymru Premier ‘super team’ TNS play in England.

Dafydd Evans
Dafydd Evans
2 months ago

Lets concentrate on a Wales cricket team first – after all there is a Wales National soccer side. I take zero interest in cricket at present…for obvious reasons.

Phil Jones
Phil Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Dafydd Evans

It’s official title is the England & Wales cricket board

Antony Jones
Antony Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Phil Jones

It’s initials are ECB, which shows what they think of Wales.

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