Whilst the Welsh football leagues may not have the finance and exposure of their English neighbours, the nation still boasts numerous competitions hosting a broad range of levels and abilities. The majority of clubs competing in the various leagues are indeed Welsh, although several English teams also feature and a handful of Welsh squads ply their trade across the border. Even though the calibre may be contrasting, both England and Wales boast a rich footballing history that dates back centuries to the birth of the modern game.
Welsh Football League
By the close of the 1800s, association football had become quite popular within Wales, despite the roaring successes of the national rugby team at the time. Many local competitions had popped up across the country, although it wasn’t until 1904 that the Rhymney Valley League formed alongside the South Wales League to set the foundations for today’s Welsh Football League. The current competition is a second tier contest that includes clubs from the South, with the Cymru Alliance being its equivalent in the North. Both leagues offer the chance of promotion and the risk of relegation.
Founded in 1991 and launched a year later, the Premier League represents the height of professional football in Wales, existing directly above the Welsh Football League and Cymru Alliance. During the 80s, the country’s top teams were already invested in English competitions and the lack of transport links between the north and the south made it unnecessary for a national league. However, political pressure from FIFA on the United Kingdom to merge as one footballing nation forced the FAW into a decision to create a premier division, which was originally titled the League of Wales. The 2017/18 campaign hosts a total of 12 clubs, with the hugely successful The New Saints on course to become champions for the twelfth time.