Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Welsh Premier to split

The FAW has announced today that it will split into two divisions from season 2010/11. According to John Deacon, the league is stagnating and the feeling is that the introduction of a two tier structure will boost crowds and improve facilties. well he's right on his first point, the League is stagnating. But I'm not convinced that the new proposals amount to anything more than a reduction of teams playing at the top level in Wales.

I've already touched on a major problem for Welsh football. Some of the most talented players simply don't want to travel for hours every other Saturday when they could get a similar experience playing in the Cymru Alliance or the Welsh League. The introduction of a Welsh prem Div 2 will make these players think even harder.

The top ten clubs will play each opther 4 times a season. That's a pretty depressing prospect for the travelling fan, and I would think even the home fan will get pretty bored.

At the moment, all teams in the Welsh Premier can sell advertising space due to the television coverage offered. Will TV cameras visit Div 2 games when the change happens? I'm not so sure. Another crucial income stream will be closed down for smaller clubs.

Surely it is only a matter of time before that second tier is subdivided and regionalised. a Welsh Premier Division Two is simply unsustainable. In effect, all that will happen is that we reduce our main League to ten teams. That's an admission of failure in my book, though I suppose its an inevitablity that Scotland bowed to a long time ago.

Will the top ten clubs receive increased financial support from the FAW, or will they simply be expected to reach the higher standards required using their own money? The boom and bust mentality will return to Welsh football as Sugar Daddy Chairmen become the only way to secure your place in the top flight. Normal clubs will reign in their ambitions, and the European incentive will effectively disappear, thus reducing another recruitment aid for the second tier clubs.

I have long argued that the Welsh premier is only sustainable if it is populated by teams from the major towns in Wales. It needs Newport, Merthyr, Bridgend, Pontypridd and possibly now, Wrexham. I appreciate that the exiles will see no benefit and I can't blame them, but from the League's point of view, I don't think any amount of restructuring will work while our main cities and towns play in England.

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