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A Brief History of the Welsh Premier League

Political necessity was the cause for the birth of the Welsh Premier League, and it took place in 1992.

The Welsh Football Association feared losing its independent national status, its position then being questioned in FIFA circles by Asian and African countries who begrudged the independent status held by the 4 British associations. They viewed the senior Welsh clubs participating in English football championships as undermining that status, and thus the formation of a league to represent the country began.

The Founding of the League of Wales
Up until that time, the challenges of local geography, not to mention its powerful English neighbour, had prevented Wales from successfully forming its own national championship. This was until the Football Association of Wales founded the League of Wales in 1992. Now, along with the growth of sports betting around the world, this league has grown both on the local and international radar.

The Original League of Wales
The 20 members who formed the original League of Wales had been drawn roughly equally from all different areas in the country, but Cymru Alliance and Welsh League members played a prominent part, with Newtown and Bangor switching from the English Northern Premier League.
The champions of the first season were Cwmbran Town, and they were thus the first club from Wales to take part in the European Champions' Cup. The runners-up, Inter Cardiff, finished in the very same position in the following season, when Bangor City won the first of two successive titles.
In the years that followed, the live sports betting which was possible at that time would have seen punters happily backing Barry Town, thanks to that team taking the next four league titles. The club had come back from the world of English football, and Neil O'Halloran, their owner, transformed them into the first full-time professionals in the national league.

The Development of the League
The Welsh Premier League has steadily grown in standard, with numerous players moving to English Football League clubs. Mark Delaney is an outstanding example, having become a well-known International player after attracting attention when he played with Carmarthen Town before going on to make his way to the Welsh side by means of Aston Villa and Cardiff.

More lately, Steve Evans, ex-TNS stalwart and the 2004/2005 Welsh Premier League Player of the Year, managed to win his first cap playing at the Racecourse against Liechtenstein, a fact made more impressive when one remembers that he did so just 5 months after he moved from Wrexham to the League. Another notable player, Owain Tudur Jones, became part of the Swansea City team from Bangor City, and advanced through to the Welsh Under-21 team and even made the full squad in his very first season in League 1.

The Restructuring of the League
The 2010/2011 season saw proposals that the Welsh Premier League should be expanded into a First and Second Division, with 10 teams in each. A further proposition was accepted by the Welsh Football Association that it should take total control of the League, and the Football League of Wales Limited Company should be dissolved. An alternative restructuring proposal was accepted, however, which saw the Premier League being reduced from 18 clubs to 12, and continuing with just one Division. In recent years The New Saints, as the only full-time professional club of the twelve, have dominated, but 2017-18 is likely to bring a challenge to their position, with Connah's Quay Nomads the next to embark on a transition to full-time status.

© Copyright 2013 Welsh Football

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