What next for the Cymru Premier as the Football Association of Wales holds a review?

Caernarfon Town players celebrate winning the Cymru Premier 2022 play-off final

Cymru Premier, which was founded 30 years ago, will come under scrutiny as the Football Association of Wales (FAW) looks to strategize for its future.

FAW chairman Steve Williams said the time had come for a review and that clubs and fans would be consulted over the coming months.

Williams told BBC Radio Wales that the governing body will be “open-minded” on possible competition reforms.

Since the 2010–11 season, the league has operated with 12 teams, and options for the future include further downsizing or expansion.

Switching to summer football – as is happening in the Republic of Ireland – has long been debated and seen as a way to help clubs play in Europe and also boost crowds.

Williams said the governing body would not rule anything out, with games played on Fridays and Sundays as well as a winter break also suggested.

BBC Sport Wales has surveyed the views of those involved in the Cymru Premier as well as seasoned observers.

Craig Harrison
Craig Harrison left Connah’s Quay Nomads to return for a second spell as New Saints boss in August 2022

New Saints head coach Craig Harrison

“I think it’s gradually improving in all aspects.

“For example, qualifications for coaches, professional license holders have to be responsible if the teams want to challenge Europe, which is great.

“I think that in the league, it’s enough to have the A license.

“From that point of view, the priority is really high with fantastic coaches, while the facilities and pitches are improving.

“I had the National League experience with Hartlepool for one season, and the only real main difference is really the crowd.

“You come into this National League and there are huge clubs – you’re watching Wrexham right now and they’re getting 10,000.

“It would be nice to see more people at Cymru Premier games because it’s definitely improving and there are good teams.

“Friday nights would be good. Tranmere Rovers have done that historically to avoid Liverpool, Everton and Manchester sides.

“I’m not too sure about Sunday, I don’t really think I would want to be involved on Sunday, but if that’s what it takes to get people through the door, that’s what we have to do.”

Jacques Phillips
Jake Phillips has played for Connah’s Quay, Newtown, Airbus UK and Flint Town United

Airbus UK midfielder Jake Phillips Broughton

“As a child, I always had the ambition to play football, first and foremost at a professional level.

“When I was released by Wrexham an opportunity arose for me to stay part-time and work with Andy Morrison at Connah’s Quay.

“From there, it has been a real pleasure to play in the league, year after year, with different players, different clubs and different managers and to have different experiences of the way they all work.

“The growth since I’ve been in the league has been huge.

“For a part-time Wales team to qualify for the Europa Conference or Europa League group stages would be huge, not just for the league but also for player opportunities.

“It’s a very big target for some clubs, especially The New Saints being a full-time club, and it might be a more realistic target for them.

“Everything on the pitch seems to be changing from year to year in terms of the quality of coaches and players.

“You’re watching people like Dave Edwards and Jazz Richards who played in the European Championship for Wales falling into the system, which is fantastic.

“I think the next thing would be to try to get more fans and bigger doors.”

Howard Ellis
Newtown chairman Howard Ellis is a former Welsh League referee

Howard Ellis, Chairman of Newtown AFC

“There are a lot of teams that have been in the league that have left and to be founding members with Aberystwyth Town is a wonderful achievement.

“For this to continue, you have to work really hard, with the number of people and volunteers, and you need a lot of sponsors to maintain our place in the league.

“I think the FAW could be much more supportive of changing things in the league.

“The most important thing I would like to see is for FAW to provide more financial support so we get on board with people like TNS so we can go full time

“It’s a question of money to try to reach this level.

“No to summer football – stay in winter.”

Malcolm Allen, former Welsh international and S4C Sgorio specialist

“There is still a lot of growth to be done and a lot of development to be implemented for us to progress in Europe to enter the group stages.

“Because that’s the next step – we need to get into a group stage of European competitions and we haven’t done that yet.

“We need to go back to the drawing board and get players from Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham on loan to make the league stronger.

“We need young people on loan to clubs to make them stronger, bring them to Europe and play for them for a few years until they are ready to go back to their clubs in their first teams.

“I think that’s the only way to go unless you have dads who are willing to invest money in these football clubs and then we can bring in better players.

“At the moment players are just moving from one club to another and we’re really not going to the next level and that’s the problem.

“The more strong teams and clubs we can have, the better the league will get.

“Colwyn Bay is not far away and I would like Merthyr to get involved.”

Andy Legg
Andy Legg won six caps for Wales between 1996 and 2002

Former Llanelli and Bangor City manager and former Wales international Andy Legg

“They can’t stand still – they have to try and move the league forward because it’s been standing still for quite a long time now.

“Results in Europe proved that – I look at TNS results last year and they lost two games in injury time or the last two minutes.

“Fitness matters and I don’t think you can get players fit enough just by training or playing a practice match against each other.

“Summer football can help push it forward, I’m not sure, but it’s something they really need to look at.

“I’ve been saying this for years, even when I was manager at Llanelli, I think summer football would be better because they would attract better crowds and support them better in Europe.”

Rob Phillips, BBC Football Correspondent in Wales

“There is a very good geographical spread now with the arrival of Pontypridd United and Penybont now established.

“Take these two – Pontypridd is at the heart of a rugby community and Penybont has Cardiff City 15 miles away and Swansea City 30 miles away, the two biggest clubs in Wales.

“It’s tough ground for both of them and you wonder if Friday nights added to Sundays might just be the way to go.

“Mike Harris is against summer football – he doesn’t think it would help. But I noticed Steve Williams might have planned a winter break and that might be a way forward.

“I’m really pleased we’ve heard from someone in Welsh senior management reviewing it and would suggest giving the Cymru Premier and the setup all the attention it deserves.

“Let’s see what comes out of this review, because it could be really exciting and long overdue.”

About Betty J. Snyder

Check Also

Duelbits becomes the regional betting sponsor of the Argentine Football Association

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) and Duelbits, an online betting platform, have announced the conclusion …