Four ways to improve Welsh domestic football

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The football fans in Wales will surely head into next summer with renewed confidence and hope that Gareth Bale and co. will provide a couple of shocks during their first tournament since the 1958 World Cup.

The Welsh FA (FAW) will also be proud that they have players travelling to France to play under the Welsh flag and will be many non-Welsh supporters' second-favourite team in the tournament, but the FAW must also look closer to home.

The league system is currently lagging behind, and despite restructuring the system a few seasons ago, things have just gone from bad to worse.


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38 clubs have played in the Welsh Premier League since its inception in 1992, but as of the 2015/16 (current season) only 12 play in the top flight. The only full-time team are based, ironically, in England (TNS). The four professional Welsh sides all play in the English football pyramid.

The Welsh Premier League needs to become less exclusive and must make the four following changes:

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1. The league needs to become a March-October summer league

This is the most important change the FAW and the WPL must implement. Wales is a famous Rugby nation and even the smaller clubs get a decent crowd. A summer league will see these Rugby fans free to watch their local team playing football.

The summer league is also good for semi-pro leagues, as those clubs can rarely afford undersoil heating. The players would be fitter when they play in Europe - in the very early stages of continental qualification -they will be mid-way through their season.

2. 12 teams in the top flight of football is not enough

Even a semi-professional league that consists of one full-time team need to be playing more games then they do currently.

Each club currently plays 32 leagues games, but this is split into two sections.

Wales v Andorra - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier

After each team play each other twice in the regular season, the WPL is split in two, the top six and bottom six play their counterparts from the same half twice more.

It should be expanded to 18 teams, 34 league games seems the perfect amount for a summer league and would not require the division split which isn't beneficial to anyone.

3. It was a bemusing decision to introduce a Europa League play off

Wales have four European places. One for the Champions League, Three for the Europa League.

The top two qualify for Europe while teams places third-sixth will enter in this play off. The other spot is reserved for the Welsh Cup Winners, however if the cup winner has already qualified for any European spot the highest place team yet to be guaranteed a spot qualify.

This also means the play off entry would move down one spot, so the teams placed fourth - seventh would compete.

Wales v Andorra - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier

Last season sixth-placed Newtown won the play off and qualified for the Europa league, despite finishing on 38 points with the fourth-worst tally in the division.

The four places need to be given to the highest placed teams at all times, just the top three teams and the cup winners.

4. Allow the youth teams of the "Big four" Welsh teams to play their youth teams in the Welsh Premier League.

After speaking to a couple of officials within the FAW regarding this, I was knocked back, stating that as they play in the English pyramid this would never happen.

If that is the case why do Swansea, Cardiff and Newport County hold 3 of the 4 semi-final spots in the Welsh Youth Cup?

Wales v Belgium - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier

This was met with no response. The FAW are not showing enough interest in their own league for the sustainability of the division.

With these four changes implemented, Welsh football will become more competitive. They will never provide a club that will win the Champions League or the Europa League, but winning more matches and being more competitive, will help the clubs financially.

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