Why Colwyn Bay’s return to Welsh football is great news for the domestic scene
Colwyn Bay this week held a club-defining vote which saw them return to the Welsh pyramid system after a 34-year exile.
Shareholders met at the clubhouse on Thursday and voted to end their exile from the Welsh Leagues, after leaving in 1984. The outcome was based on shares with 91,600 votes for returning to Wales and 55,624 to remain in England.
They will either play in the second or third tier of Welsh football, after a few meetings with the Football Association of Wales. Ironically, they find out their fate on the same day as the United Kingdom is meant to leave the European Union after the Brexit vote in 2016.
But this exit is one that both Colwyn Bay and the Welsh domestic scene can all celebrate. Colwyn may be saying goodbye to a pyramid system which saw them just two divisions away from the Football League, but there’s plenty to be optimistic for.
Chairman Bill Murray stressed the importance of the club’s survival to the BBC which was dependent on a return to Wales:
“My main concern was that the club survived and the only way that was going to happen was by going into the Welsh system.”
The move back to Wales not only allows the club to survive, but it also gives the Seasiders a chance of things they may not have been exposed to in England.
Players eligible for Wales C
The news broke just a day after Mark Jones named his Wales C squad to take on England.
That is one of the plus points for Colwyn to be playing in the Welsh pyramid system. Should they reach the Welsh Premier League, then their players will be eligible to play for their country. This provides an opportunity for players to move on to the professional game with impressive performances, but also allow players to pull on the red of Wales.
Should Colwyn be placed in the second tier then they would find themselves in Round One of the Welsh Cup, just two rounds off of drawing a Welsh Premier League outfit.
Even in the third tier, they would still stand a good chance. Should Colwyn progress to Round Three then there would plenty of intrigue for a televised broadcast. The winners of the JD Welsh Cup earn £180,000.
If they don’t begin in the new FAW Championship North, they would find likely find themselves in the final edition of the Welsh Alliance League, before the continued changes to the league structure. A place in the third tier would allow them to qualify for the FAW Trophy, which provides £23,000 in prize money.
The Football Association of Wales’ met in January and announced the winner of the 2019/2020 Nathaniel MG Cup, will qualify for the Irn Bru-Cup. This gives clubs the opportunity to compete in a competition that Welsh clubs have embraced through Connah’s Quay reaching the final.
There’s an added spice when teams in England play Wales. Professional clubs like Cardiff and Swansea are often lambasted by supporters of English clubs, for the sides playing in the English pyramid system.
However, a return to Wales will set up a number of local derbies, which could see boosted crowds at The Red Lion Foods Stadium.
A knowledge of the system already
Colwyn already have fielded teams in the FAW Youth Cup and the Welsh Alliance League Reserves Division.
Depending on what players stay when they make their move, the Reserves and Youth side would be able to offer their expertise, having played against Welsh sides before. This could see more local talent representing Colwyn.
Could it set up a precedent?
The Seasiders return to Wales may provide a domino effect now for other exiles. Cardiff City, Newport County and Swansea City all currently play in a fully professional game, but for Merthyr Town and Wrexham, they’re still in the Non-League system.
It wasn’t long ago that Chester were considering a move to the Welsh Premier League.
Wrexham are fighting for promotion to the Football League after an 11-year exile, whilst Merthyr Town sits in mid-table in the seventh tier of English football. Clubs may now reconsider their stance if they are content with the discussions between Colwyn Bay and the Football Association of Wales.
(Featured Image: NCM Media)