"The arms that you wield now are not such as your forefathers wielded; but they are infinitely more effective, and infinitely more irresistable" ~ Cymru Fydd leaflet, 1890

Saturday 16 June 2012

There is nothing special or unique about our football clubs

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One myth I've heard and read many times is that if Wales was independent then our exiled football clubs; Swansea City, Cardiff City, Wrexham, Newport County, Colwyn Bay and Merthr Town would be ejected from English football and forced to play in the Welsh pyramid.

And considering how vital it is for Wales to win support from the valleys then it's crucial to have Swansea and Cardiff fans in particular on side. And there's a few important things you need to understand about football, not just in Wales and England but throughout the world before you can see how ludicrous this myth really is.

Original pic
We'll start with Wales and the six clubs mentioned above.

Despite being a merger of a Welsh and English club TNS are now based in England and have represented Wales many times in Europe. Berwick Rangers also compete in the Scottish Pyramid. You can also add minor Shropshire teams Trefonen, Newcastle and Bucknell who all play in Wales.

Northern Ireland
Derry City currently compete in the Republic of Ireland and have represented both Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland in Europe.

FC Andorra play in the Spanish system.

FC B├╝singen play in the Swiss leagues.

AP Campionese play in the Swiss pyramid, Campione is an Italian enclave inside Switzerland.

Despite having an international team Lichtenstein has no league system of it's own but has many clubs in the Swiss leagues. FC Balzers, USV Eschen/Mauren, FC Ruggell, FC Schaan, FC Triesen, FC Triesenberg and FC Vaduz. FC Vaduz has played in the Swiss top flight and also usually represent Liectenstein in Europe via the Liechtenstein cup.

AS Monaco FC play in France, Monaco are unique in European football in that they do not have a national team despite meeting all the criteria required by FIFA.

San Marino
San Marino Calcio play in Italy

SV Kleinwalsertal play in Germany

Antigua Barracuda FC play in the USA

Bermuda Hogges play in the USA

Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact, FC Edmonton, Vancouver Whitecaps Residency, Victoria Highlanders and WSA Winnipeg play all play in the USA. The first four also compete in the Canadian cup for a place in North Americas "Champions League".

Puerto Rica
Puerto Rica Islanders play in the USA. Puerto Rica is a dependency of the USA but has it's own national team.

Sheffield United (yes that is what they are called!) and Xiangxue Eisiti are reserve teams of Chinese clubs that play in Hong Kong. Despite being a depency Hong Kong has it's own pyramid, FA and national team.

Singapore enters an U23 team into the Malaysian League.

Malaysia enters an U23 team into the Singapore League

DPMM FC play in Singapore

New Zealand
Wellington Phoenix play in Australia. This is genuinely one of the most unique situations in world club football because since 2006 Australia now plays in a completely different confederation and as such NZ teams are not allowed into the Asian Champions League should they reach what would normally be a qualifying slot.

Whilst this list is in no means exhaustive and only features current teams and (with the exception of the Chinese reserve teams) only features those based in their home country and those not already represented by another FA. We still have over 40 teams across the globe that play in another football associations pyramid. Our Welsh teams are not unique and there is absolutely no reason why FIFA or UEFA would force our clubs to play in the Welsh system as it would go against precedents already set world wide.

If you want to find out more about these clubs and their leagues click the link on each club (where available). Alternatively visit the wiki page here which features many more clubs that are now defunct.

This article was written as part of a new myth busters series.
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  1. It could happen that Welsh clubs are thrown out of the English system, but the pressure is much more likely to come from England than from Wales.

    Especially if Cardiff get promoted to the Premiership and there are two Welsh clubs in the top flight. Because then you'll hear increased complaints from Notts Forest, Leeds and other big clubs in the Championship that they are being denied their righful place in the Premier League by 'foreign' clubs.

    So to Cardiff fans I say, Be careful what you wish for.

    1. Fans don't own football in England, Sky does (and now BT to a point). And they would rather have Welsh clubs in the system because it brings in more money.

  2. No major clubs in that list then, apart from Monaco perhaps.

  3. I agree that fans don't own the game in England, but I wouldn't overestimate Sky's power either. If commercial considerations alone dictate, then Sky would have the Old Firm in the Premiership, but it ain't gonna happen. And if it is about money then there are bigger clubs than both the Swans and the Malaysian Dragons outside the Premiership.

    But don't rule out political influence either. In the current climate, with Scotland pushing for independence, any attempts to remove Welsh clubs from the English system would be fought from No 10. For the same reasons as Scottish regiments will be protected in the forthcoming military cuts - so as not to give ammunition to nationalists like us.

    1. The same rules that keep the OF out also keep the exiles in. According to Scudamore "Our rules are simple. It says we're a league formed for clubs that play in England and Wales."

      Of course you never know what is around the corner but the point of the article is that there is no footballing reason why Wales cannot have it's cake and eat it.

  4. No Uefa member association with designs to qualify for the European/World cups allows their best teams to play in another country's league.

    Wales must be the only country in the world who's coach will never contemplate selecting a player in that's country's national league.

    1. Coleman has attended LoW games and if they had players that were good enough then only a fool would not pick them. Plus Canada doesn't have any Canadian League players in their team and has been to a World Cup more recently than we have and have won their confederation cup, we haven't.

      Do you honestly think Welsh football would be in a better position if our teams all played in Wales? The money Swansea have earnt recently will go into funding a state of the art academy which will benefit Wales for years to come.

      Also, unless Wales pulls out of the UK and the EU there really isn't a way of forcing the clubs to play in Wales. Even if they were to do that and both UEFA and FIFA sided with the FAW the clubs would just move across the border.