The second weekend in August represents a big day in the Welsh sporting calendar, as the latest edition of the Cymru Premier kicks into gear. Always a hugely anticipated day for fans of the league’s 12 clubs, and those assessing their options on the best free bets list.

It’s not just any old season this year either, as the 2022/23 campaign represents the 30th anniversary of the Welsh top flight. Sure to be making the Welsh sports news headlines over the coming months, the league has come a long way in those 30 years.

Late to the Party

With the nation boasting one of the oldest football associations in the global game – the Welsh FA having been founded way back in 1876 – it is a little surprising that the Cymru Premier was only established as recently as the 1992/93 season.

There were however legitimate reasons for that delay, including poor transport links between the north and the south of the country, and the fact that many of the country’s biggest sides opted to play in the English league. As a result, previous efforts to begin a national league had always been doomed to failure.

Evans Perseveres Under Pressure

The fact that Wales does now boast its own National League owes a significant debt to former Football Association of Wales secretary Alun Evans. During the late 80’s the absence of a domestic league was threatening to see Wales lose its footballing identity entirely, with many calling on FIFA to insist upon a Great Britain National side.

A hugely unpopular proposal with all members, Evans made sure Wales did their bit to avoid such a scenario with the establishment of the League of Wales – now known as the Cymru Premier. Exempting Cardiff City, Swansea City and Wrexham who all plied their trade in the English League, the new venture was not immediately popular with all – particularly the eight semi-professional clubs who also played under the jurisdiction of the English FA at the time. Evans however wasn’t one for messing around, insisting that all eight clubs either join the Welsh League or play in exile. Merthyr Tydfil did ultimately win an appeal to continue playing in the English League, but the other seven sides all returned. And so, the seeds for the Cymru Premier were sown.

Looking Ahead

Something of a slow burner in the early days, the league is now widely viewed as a success, with playing standards, facilities and contributions to the grassroots game seemingly improving year on year.

The league also received a welcome boost ahead of its 30th-anniversary campaign in being awarded an additional European spot ahead of the 2022/23 season. Courtesy of an increase in its UEFA co-efficient ranking, Welsh clubs will now be playing for four European places during the 2022/23 campaign, as opposed to the three available in 2021/22.

 

Image credit: Jon Candy