How Do Welsh Teams Play In England

How Do Welsh Teams Play In England?

Last updated on September 25th, 2021

You may have seen Cardiff City and Swansea City playing in the English Premier League.

But wait a minute, aren’t they football clubs that come from Wales instead of England?

Here’s an explanation why these teams are able to play in the English Leagues!

Can Welsh teams play in the Premier League?

There are currently 5 Welsh teams that are included in the English football system. If they are able to be promoted from the EFL Championship, they will be able to play in the English Premier League.

So far, the only 2 Welsh teams that have featured in the English Premier League are Cardiff City and Swansea City.

How can Welsh teams play in England?

The 5 Welsh teams that play in the English leagues did so because there was no professional Welsh league when these clubs were founded. When the Welsh Premier League was formed in 1992, these teams were invited to join the league, but they all declined.

As such, these 5 teams continued to remain in the English football league system.

This was probably because they are already used to playing in the English leagues for many years!

Here is an in-depth explanation of this peculiar situation:

How many Welsh teams play in England?

There are 5 Welsh teams that play in the English leagues:

  1. Swansea City
  2. Cardiff City
  3. Newport County
  4. Wrexham
  5. Merthyr Town

Cardiff City was the last Welsh team to have featured in the Premier League during the 2018/19 season. After being relegated, neither Swansea City nor Cardiff City have featured in the Premier League again.

These Welsh teams were founded before the Welsh League was formed

All of these 5 teams were founded very early on in Wales.

ClubYear Founded
Swansea City1912
Cardiff City1899
Newport County1912
Wrexham1872
Merthyr Town1909

Meanwhile, the Welsh Football League (now rebranded as Cymru Premier) was only founded in 1992!

There were no other leagues available for the clubs to join at that time. As such, all of these 5 clubs played in the English football league system instead.

This was the closest alternative these teams could have to participating in a football league.

Swansea, Cardiff and Newport joined the Southern Football League when they were founded.

These Welsh teams declined to join the Welsh Premier League when it was formed

All of these 5 Welsh teams were playing in the English football league. When the Welsh Premier League was founded in 1992, they all declined to join their domestic league!

However, there were actually 6 other Welsh teams playing in England who moved back to the Welsh Premier League. This included:

  1. Bangor City
  2. Barry Town
  3. Caernarfon Town
  4. Colwyn Bay
  5. Newtown
  6. Rhyl

Football is not as prestigious in Wales compared to England

A possible reason why these Welsh teams did not want to move back to Wales was the lack of prestige of the Welsh Premier League.

The Welsh Premier League was only started in 1992. Meanwhile, the entire English football league system has been established since 1888!

As such, the Welsh Premier League would have been quite an ‘amateurish’ league, since it has just been formed. The quality of opposition that these teams faced in the English league system would be much higher too.

Moreover, the prize money would be much higher if they were able to win some trophies in England!

Cardiff City is also the only non-English team that has won the FA Cup in 1927.

Since these teams were already used to the English football system, it was no wonder why they opted to remain in England.

Welsh teams used to play in the Welsh Cup

Even though there wasn’t a Welsh football league, a Welsh Cup has been established since 1877.

All 5 teams continued to play in the Welsh Cup, even though they were in the English football league system.

However when the Welsh Premier League was formed in the late 1990s, UEFA came down hard on these 5 teams.

UEFA ruled that Welsh teams playing in the English leagues could not qualify for Europe if they won the Welsh Cup. As such, the Welsh FA was pressured to remove these 5 teams from the Welsh Cup.

These teams were invited to join the Welsh Cup in the 2011/12 season. Only Wrexham, Newport County and Merthyr Town accepted the invitation.

However, UEFA made the stance that Welsh teams playing in England would not qualify for Europe if they won the Welsh Cup. The only way they could qualify for Europe is if they did so via English competitions.

This could be why both Newport County and Wrexham declined to join the next season’s Welsh Cup!

Welsh teams play in the English cup tournaments

Since they are part of the English football system, the Welsh teams can play in the English cup tournaments. This includes both the FA Cup and the EFL Cup.

Swansea City even claimed the League Cup back in the 2012/2013 season! This allowed them to play in the Europa League.

As such, Swansea became the first Welsh team to represent England in the European competitions.

In a similar fashion, Welsh teams who play in the English tournaments may qualify for the Champions League. If such a scenario happens, they will be one of the representatives of England.

This is different from the Canadian teams in the MLS. The only way that these teams can qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League is through the single Canadian slot!

Swansea, Cardiff and Newport County are all under the jurisdiction of the English FA

These Welsh teams playing in the English leagues used to all be under the jurisdiction of the Welsh FA (FAW).

However, a new ruling in 2011 meant that clubs at level 4 or above in the English league system would be managed by the English FA.

3 Welsh clubs are now under the FA’s jurisdiction:

  1. Cardiff City
  2. Swansea City
  3. Newport County

This allows these teams to feature in both the Premier League and the FA Cup.

Both Wrexham and Merthyr Town are below the 4th tier of English football. As such, they are still under the FAW’s jurisdiction.

Welsh teams still have their stadiums in Wales

Even though the Welsh teams are competing in English competitions, their stadiums are still built in Wales:

ClubStadium
Swansea CityLiberty Stadium
Cardiff CityCardiff City Stadium
Newport CountyRodney Parade
WrexhamRacecourse Ground
Merthyr TownPenydarren Park

This means that these Welsh teams have to travel to England to play the other teams in the English leagues!

Even so, the time taken to travel to the English stadiums shouldn’t be too long.

Conclusion

There are 5 Welsh teams that play in England. This is because there was no professional Welsh league when these clubs were founded.

Even when the Welsh Premier League was founded, these 5 teams chose not to join this league.

Since they have been playing in England, they decided to continue playing there.

However, this also meant that they could not qualify for Europe if they won the Welsh Cup. The only way they can do so is through the English competitions!

undraw junior soccer 6sop

Are you passionate about football and want to earn some side income?