WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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WELSH League clubs have shown even less ambition to gain promotion to the Welsh Premier next season with only Haverfordwest County from the south applying for the FAW domestic licence.

In contrast, Buckley Town, Cefn Druids, Flint Town United, Llandudno, Porthmadog and Rhyl from the Huws Gray Alliance have all applied as the north again shows more appetite to join the top flight.

The lack of interest from the south is a worrying factor for the Football Association of Wales as the Welsh Premier becomes increasingly northern-oriented.

Last season just two clubs - Bridgend and Haverfordwest - applied and County were successful, only being cruelly denied a return to the WPL on the last day of the season when Taffs Well clinched second place.

FAW head of competitions Andrew Howard says: "When compiling a basic SWOT analysis of the Welsh Premier, it's evident that one of the biggest threats to the League is stagnation. 

"Promotion and relegation keeps leagues in all sport healthy, rugby Union's Celtic League has suffered badly from not having this. 

"But the Welsh Premier League shouldn't and although it's important to remain neutral in this job, I sincerely hope that Haverfordwest finish in the top two in the Welsh League, with Rhyl, Cefn Druids or Flint Town doing the same in the Huws Gray Alliance."

Last season, Neath's demise meant that no club was relegated from the WPL with Gap Connah's Quay rising from the Alliance.

It's evident that one of the biggest threats to the league is stagnation.

Should Haverfordwest fail to win promotion this season and, as seems likely, Llanelli fail in their domestic licence bid, there would again be no club relegated.

If an Alliance club is promoted, that would increase the number of clubs in the north to seven, with only three plying their trade in the south.

It would leave Afan Lido, Carmarthen and Port Talbot with an increased bill for travelling expenses and fewer local derbies which tend to attract the highest attendances.

Howard adds: "The only unanswered question is how are the FAW going to encourage more clubs to apply and reach the criteria from the Welsh League? 

"Well, firstly a consultation process is currently being compiled into a Tier 2 licence and this will reduce the gap between the levels and secondly, it is hoped that the Welsh Ground Improvements can target those clubs which do have ambition to be promoted for infrastructure development.

"A focused infrastructure investment policy is fundamental to this."

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25 April 2017

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