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Welsh Premier League
Logo Eng.jpg Website.png
Countries Wales
Confederation UEFA
Founded 1992
Number of teams 18
Relegation to Cymru Alliance
Welsh Football League First Division
Domestic cup(s) Welsh Cup
Loosemore's League Cup
International cup(s) Champions League
UEFA Europa League
Current champions Rhyl (2008–09)
Most championships Barry Town
(7 times)
Website www.welshpremiership.com
2009–10

The Welsh Premier League is the national football league for Wales and is at the top of the Welsh football league system. Prior to 2002, the league was known as the League of Wales, but changed its name as part of a sponsorship deal. Currently, the full sponsored name of the league is the Principality Building Society Welsh Premier Football League.

Contents

A troubled start

The league was formed in October 1991 by Alun Evans, Secretary General of the Football Association of Wales (FAW), as he believed that the Welsh international football team was under threat from FIFA. Wales, along with the other three home nations (England, Northern Ireland and Scotland), had a permanent seat on the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and it was thought that many FIFA members were resentful of this and pressing for the four nations to unite into one combined side for the whole of the United Kingdom.

The new league was formed for the 1992-93 season. At the time, Wales was almost unique in world football in that despite the FAW being a FIFA member it didn't organise a national league. Traditionally, the best teams in Wales had always played in the English leagues. Aberdare Athletic, Cardiff City, Merthyr Town, Newport County, Swansea City and Wrexham have all been members of the Football League.

Because of poor transportation links, it has always been much easier for Welsh clubs to travel east-west than north-south so clubs tended to look east to England for competitors and many of the top semi-professional sides in Wales also played in the English football league system; Bangor City were founder members of the Football Conference (then the Alliance Premier League) in 1979 and reached the FA Trophy final in 1984, before transferring to the new League of Wales in 1992.

The formation of the League of Wales saw the start of a bitter dispute between the Football Association of Wales (FAW) and those non-league clubs who wanted to remain part of the English football league. The 'Irate Eight', as they were dubbed, consisted of Bangor City, Barry Town, Caernarfon Town, Colwyn Bay, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport County, Newtown and Rhyl.

Prior to the inaugural season, Bangor City, Newtown and Rhyl returned to play in Wales. However as Rhyl's application to join the league was late, they were placed in the second level of the pyramid system. Because of FAW sanctions, the remaining five clubs were forced to play their home matches in England. Following a season in exile at Worcester City, five became four, as Barry Town joined the Welsh league system.

A court ruling in 1995 allowed the remaining four clubs to return to Wales to play their home matches while still remaining within the English system; despite this victory, Caernarfon Town decided to join the League of Wales. However, Colwyn Bay, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport County remain in the English league pyramid system. Recently Chester City, who's stadium sits on the Anglo-Welsh border, unsuccessfully applied to join the league before being wound up.

For the first four seasons of the league's existence, its results had not been featured on the Press Association's vidiprinter service and consequently had not appeared on Final Score. The PA started featuring the league's results at the start of the 1996/97 season, which was also when the PA began providing the results for the Irish League.

Demographics

One of the major problems facing the league is its failure to attract teams from the major population centres of Wales, which hampers the chances of high attendances at matches. In addition, because the four most populous towns, Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham all have professional teams who are long established within the English football league system, it is debatable whether any club from those areas would have sufficient support to be competitive in the Welsh Premier League. As such, the League is made up of clubs from smaller towns and even villages. It has recently been proposed that these Welsh clubs plying their trade in the English football pyramid could field reserve or representative teams in the league.[citation needed]

Promotion and relegation

Clubs are promoted to the league from the two regional feeder leagues; the Cymru Alliance in the north and the Welsh Football League in the south. Clubs who finish as champions - or as runners-up if the champions decide not to seek promotion - of the feeder leagues are promoted subject to an application for membership being received and accepted and the stadium and infrastructure safety criteria of that League being met.

No teams were promoted to the Premier League following the 2005/06 season. However, Cardiff Grange Quins, who finished bottom of the top division, resigned leaving the league to operate with an odd number of clubs for 2006/07.

Eighteen clubs competed in the Welsh Premier League for the 2007/08 season as both Neath Athletic (Welsh Football League) and Llangefni Town (Cymru Alliance) were promoted while Cwmbran Town were relegated to Division 1 of the Welsh League. For 2008/09, Prestatyn Town played in the league for the first time after promotion from the alliance, while Llangefni Town once again played in the Alliance after only one season. The following Season - 2009/10, saw Bala Town F.C. (the Lakesiders) join the League after they won the (Cymru Alliance) in 2008/09. They replaced Caernarfon Town, who finished bottom and were relegated to the Cymru Alliance.

Future change

The 18 Welsh Premier League clubs met on April 13, 2008 and voted to support a restructuring proposal put forward by Welsh Premier League secretary John Deakin which would replace the single Welsh Premier League with a First and Second Division with 10 teams in each Division for the 2010-11 season.

A further proposal was accepted that the Football Association of Wales should take full control of the Welsh Premier League and the existing Company, 'Football League of Wales Limited' should be dissolved.

These proposals were forwarded to the Football Association of Wales for their consideration.[1]

In June 2009 the clubs voted to accept an alternative proposal to reduce the premier League from 18 clubs to 12 for the 2010-11 season onwards.[2]

European competition

The champions of the Welsh Premier League qualify, along with the champions of every European domestic league, for the UEFA Champions League. The second and third placed teams qualify for the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. 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 fourth placed team inherits the Europa spot.

Results in Europe have been mixed-some notable successes, such as Barry Town's run to the first round proper of the UEFA Cup, drawing 3-3 with Aberdeen at Jenner Park, and Barry's 3-1 victory over FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League, combined with some heavy defeats, such as Total Network Solutions' 12-1 aggregate defeat to Amica Wronki of Poland.

The aforementioned Barry Town have been by some way the most successful Welsh side in Europe in the league's 15-year history, winning a total of six games in Europe.

In recent times results in Europe have generally improved; whereas in the past Welsh sides had been on the wrong end of some heavy scorelines, all Welsh sides now enter Europe with the realistic aim of at least winning their first round tie. In the last two years in particular European results have been good, with Rhyl, Carmarthen Town and Llanelli all enjoying success.

Media coverage

There is no doubt that the advent of the League has brought increased media coverage for its member clubs. Although there is sometimes complaint about the lack of it at times, the league does enjoy coverage by the Welsh national (notably the Western Mail and Daily Post) and local press.

Since the start of the 2007/08 season goals and results from the league have appeared on the Press Association vidiprinter service. Prior to this only the full time score had been displayed although the half time score had also been shown from around 2000. Both Final Score and Soccer Saturday now include the Welsh Premier League results as part of their classified football results sequence.

On television, brief highlights from one of the day's games were featured on BBC Wales' sports results programme Wales on Saturday along with occasional live matches until the corporation lost the broadcast rights to BSkyB at the end of the 2003/4 season. Sky opted to sell the Welsh Premier rights to S4C, signaling the start of a half-hour highlights show on Saturday nights and several live matches per year. Sgorio Cymru (formerly Y Clwb Pel Droed) now broadcasts in Wales & throughout the rest of the UK via digital satellite with an interactive option for English-language commentary available via digital satellite.

Welsh Clubs' European games are sometimes broadcast live also, again, usually on the BBC or S4C (although TNS's Champions League tie against Liverpool was live on ITV2).

Teams for 2009-10

Current teams in the Welsh Premier are:

Club Name Stadium Championships 2008–09 Placing
Aberystwyth Town Park Avenue 0 088th
Airbus UK Broughton The Airfield 0 1212th
Bala Town Maes Tegid 0 181st in Cymru Alliance
Bangor City Farrar Road 2 066th
Caersws Recreation Ground 0 1717th
Carmarthen Town Richmond Park 0 044th
Elements Cefn Druids Plaskynaston Lane 0 1313th
Gap Connah's Quay Deeside Stadium 0 099th
Haverfordwest County Bridge Meadow Stadium 0 077th
Llanelli Stebonheath Park 1 022nd
Neath The Gnoll 0 1414th
Newtown Latham Park 0 1010th
Port Talbot Town Victoria Road 0 055th
Porthmadog Y Traeth 0 1616th
Prestatyn Town Bastion Road 0 1515th
Rhyl Belle Vue 2 011st
Technogroup Welshpool Town Maes y Dre Recreation Ground 0 1111th
The New Saints Park Hall* 4 033rd

* Ground situated in Oswestry, England.

Former members of the League of Wales/Welsh Premier League

Club Name Stadium Period in Top Flight Current League 2009-10 Season
Abergavenny Thursdays Pen-y-Pound (1992–1993) Gwent County League Division 3
Afan Lido The Marston's Stadium (1992–1996, 1998–2005) Welsh Football League First Division
Barry Town Jenner Park (1992–2004) Welsh Football League First Division
Briton Ferry Athletic Old Road Ground (1992–1994, 1995–1997) See Briton Ferry Llansawel
Caernarfon Town The Oval (1995–2000, 2001–2009) Cymru Alliance
Cardiff Grange Quins Cardiff Athletics Stadium (2005–2006) Welsh Football League Second Division
Cemaes Bay School Lane (1995–1998) Anglesey League
Conwy United Morfa (1992–2000) Welsh Alliance League
Cwmbran Town Cwmbran Stadium (1992–2007) Welsh Football League Second Division
Ebbw Vale (1992–1998) Club folded
Flint Town United Cae-y-Castell (1992–1998) Cymru Alliance
Holywell Town Halkyn Road (1992–1997, 1998–1999) Welsh Alliance League
Llangefni Town Bob Parry Field (2007–2008) Cymru Alliance
Llanidloes Town Victoria Road (1992–1993) Montgomeryshire League
Maesteg Park Tudor Park (1992–1995) Welsh Football League Second Division
Mold Alexandra Alyn Park (1992–1995) Cymru Alliance
Oswestry Town (1996–2003) See The New Saints
Rhayader Town Y Weirglodd (1997–2002) Mid Wales League
Ton Pentre Ynys Park (1993–1996) Welsh Football League First Division
UWIC Inter Cardiff Cyncoed Campus, Cardiff (1992–2001) Welsh Football League Second Division

Champions

Year Winner (number of titles) Runners-up Third Notes
1992–1993 Cwmbran Town (1) Inter Cardiff Aberystwyth Town
1993–1994 Bangor City (1) Inter Cardiff Ton Pentre
1994–1995 Bangor City (2) Afan Lido Ton Pentre
1995–1996 Barry Town (1) Newtown Conwy United
1996–1997 Barry Town (2) Inter Cardiff Ebbw Vale Barry Town also won Welsh Cup and League Cup
1997–1998 Barry Town (3) Newtown Ebbw Vale Barry Town also won League Cup
1998–1999 Barry Town (4) Inter Cardiff Cwmbran Town Barry Town also won FAW Premier Cup and League Cup
1999–2000 Total Network Solutions (1) Barry Town Cwmbran Town
2000–2001 Barry Town (5) Cwmbran Town Carmarthen Town Barry Town also won Welsh Cup
2001–2002 Barry Town (6) Total Network Solutions Bangor City Barry Town also won Welsh Cup
2002–2003 Barry Town (7) Total Network Solutions Bangor City Barry Town also won Welsh Cup
2003–2004 Rhyl (1) Total Network Solutions Haverfordwest County Rhyl also won Welsh Cup and League Cup
2004–2005 Total Network Solutions (2) Rhyl Bangor City Total Network Solutions also won Welsh Cup
2005–2006 Total Network Solutions (3) Llanelli Rhyl Total Network Solutions also won League Cup
2006–2007 The New Saints (4) Rhyl Llanelli The New Saints also won FAW Premier Cup
2007–2008 Llanelli (1) The New Saints Rhyl Llanelli also won League Cup
2008–2009 Rhyl (2) Llanelli The New Saints
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Record league champions

Rank Club Titles Years
1 Barry Town 7 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003
2 Total Network Solutions/The New Saints 4 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007
3 Bangor City 2 1994, 1995
3 Rhyl 2 2004, 2009
4 Cwmbran Town 1 1993
4 Llanelli 1 2008

Players

Marc Lloyd Williams, currently playing with Airbus UK Broughton, has scored more than 300 goals in 400-plus appearances in the League of Wales, making him the most prolific goalscorer in the league's history.[3]

Colin Reynolds holds the record for the number of appearances in the League of Wales.[4]

Sponsorship

Below is a list of the League's sponsors and what they chose to name the competition:

  • 1992: Konica Peter Llewellyn Limited of Swansea (Konica League of Wales)
  • 1993-2001: No sponsor .
  • 2002-2004: JT Hughes Mitsubishi (JT Hughes Mitsubishi Welsh Premiership)
  • 2004-2006: Vauxhall Masterfit Retailers (Vauxhall Masterfit Retailers Welsh Premier League)
  • 2006–Present: Principality Building Society (Principality Building Society Welsh Premier Football League)

See also

External links

References


Simple English

Welsh Premier League
Country Wales, England
Confederation UEFA
Founded 1992
Level 1
Number of teams 12
Relegation to Welsh Football League First Division
Cymru Alliance
Domestic cup Welsh Cup
Welsh League Cup
International cup Champions League
Europa League
Current champions The New Saints (2009/10)
Most successful club Barry Town (7)
Website www.welshpremiership.com

The Principality Building Society Welsh Premier League is a football league which is the top division of domestic football in Wales.

Club 2010/11

  • Aberystwyth Town
  • Airbus UK Broughton
  • Bala Town F.C.
  • Bangor City
  • Carmarthen Town
  • Haverfordwest County A.F.C.
  • Llanelli
  • Neath
  • Newtown F.C.
  • Port Talbot Town
  • Prestatyn Town
  • The New Saints

Champions

SeasonChampionsRunner-upThird place
2000/01Barry TownCwmbran TownCarmarthen Town
2001/02Barry TownTotal Network SolutionsBangor City
2002/03Barry TownTotal Network SolutionsBangor City
2003/04Barry TownTotal Network SolutionsHaverfordwest County
2004/05Total Network SolutionsRhylBangor City
2005/06Total Network SolutionsLlanelliRhyl
2006/07The New SaintsRhylLlanelli
2007/08LlanelliThe New SaintsRhyl
2008/09RhylLlanelliThe New Saints
2009/10The New SaintsLlanelliPort Talbot Town

Former champions

  • 1992/93 : Cwmbran Town
  • 1993/94 : Bangor City
  • 1994/95 : Bangor City
  • 1995/96 : Barry Town
  • 1996/97 : Barry Town
  • 1997/98 : Barry Town
  • 1998/99 : Barry Town
  • 1999/00 : Total Network Solutions


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