Welsh football league system
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While most Welsh clubs play in the Welsh pyramid and most clubs in that pyramid are Welsh, five Welsh clubs play in England, and four English clubs play in Wales.
Structure of Welsh football
Tier 1: Welsh Premier League
At the top is the Welsh Premier League, which is the only national league in Wales and is run by the FAW.
Tier 2: Championship
From 2019-20, the Football Association of Wales will run the second tier for the first time after a review of the Welsh league pyramid. Tier 2 will be split into a northern and central Wales league, FAW Championship North & Mid, and a corresponding league for southern Wales. FAW Championship South & Mid. The champions of each of these leagues can be promoted to the Welsh Premier League, subject to acceptable ground facilities, and if the champions cannot meet the criteria the runner-up team may be considered.
Lower tier leagues (North Wales)
The FAW Championship North & Mid has a feeder league structure of its own with three regional leagues feeding it — the Mid Wales League (covering Powys and Ceredigion) the Welsh Alliance League (covering all of the north except Wrexham) and the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) (covering the small region around Wrexham). Again, the champions or runners-up of these leagues can be promoted, 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 Ceredigion, 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 Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) has two lower divisions of its own and the Clwyd East Football League is the feeder league below it.
Lower tier leagues (South Wales)
In the south, the Welsh Football League has two divisions all covering the whole of the South Wales geographical area, and it is not until the fifth 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 Football League. This is straightforward enough in the Gwent FA area, where there is one senior league, the Gwent County League, whose champions (or runners-up) are eligible, if they satisfy Welsh Football League criteria. (Below the three divisions of the Gwent County, there are the Newport and District, East Gwent, Central Gwent and North Gwent leagues)
The South Wales FA area was formerly more complicated however, as this region had two senior leagues of identical status covering the same area, each with two divisions - the South Wales Senior League and the South Wales Amateur League but as of the 2015/16 season the two divisions merged to become the South Wales Alliance League- whereby the champions could be promoted to the Welsh Football League subject to meeting criteria. Below these two leagues are local leagues in the towns and cities of South Wales, the champions of which may play off to be promoted into the new league.
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 & District) 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 Football League, this four-way play-off idea is theory rather than practice. The latest clubs to gain promotion from this region were Llansawel in 2006 (from the Neath & District League), West End in 2005 (from the Swansea Senior League), Ystradgynlais in 2004 (from the Neath & District League), Cwmamman United in 2002 (from the Neath & District League) and Garden Village in 1999 (from the Carmarthenshire League). On 31st May 2016, Ynysygerwn (Neath & District League) beat Team Swansea (Swansea Senior League) 3-1 at the Old Road, Briton Ferry Llansawel in a play-off to gain promotion to the Welsh League Division 3.
From the 2019/20 season, the following structure will follow. For each division, its official name and number of clubs is given:
- Football in Wales
- Welsh Cup
- Welsh League Cup
- FAW Premier Cup
- List of football clubs in Wales
- List of stadiums in Wales by capacity