DIVISION ONE: The second tier of Welsh football certainly has a new look to it with four new teams competing in 2013/14. West End pipped Cambrian & Clydach by two points to win last year’s title but neither side had the infrastructure in place to achieve promotion to the Welsh Premier League. Haverfordwest County, fourth last year, could be the only club capable of meeting promotion criteria – highlighting an issue that is of a growing concern in the South Wales system. Basement side Caerleon drop down along with Barry Town. The promotion of Goytre (from Monmouthshire) presents us with the confusing scenario of having two ‘Goytres’ (the other being Port Talbot-based Goytre United) in the same division – no doubts that I will be among the first to slip up on that inevitable banana skin! Aberbargoed Buds and Caerau (Ely) also come up from the second division, whilst the merger of Bryntirion Athletic and Bridgend Town gives us Penybont FC and the league’s first 3G synthetic pitch.
DIVISION TWO: The second division (level 3 in the Welsh system) will run with the standard 16 clubs this season, after Maesteg-based side Caerau decided to continue despite announcing that they would be folding with immediate effect. Caerleon come down the first division, whilst Cwmaman Institute who failed to win a game all last season, recording just two points, are demoted with Cardiff Met University, AFC Llwydcoed and Chepstow Town gaining promotion.
DIVISION THREE: This week’s u-turn to admit the re-named Barry Town United and Llanelli Town into the third division and give last year’s bottom club Bettws a stay of execution, leaves us with an exapanded 19 clubs. Last season’s runaway leaders Cardiff Met University go up along with AFC Llwydcoed and Chepstow Town. Liswerry are Rhoose are promoted into the Welsh Football League from the Gwent County League and the South Wales Amateur League respectively.
HOW DOES IT WORK IN THE NORTH?
Things operate a little differently in the north as opposed to the south’s relatively straight-forward three divisions immediately below the 12-team Welsh Premier League:
The Welsh League Division One’s direct equivalent is the Cymru Alliance, featuring teams such as Cefn Druids, Porthmadog and last year’s champions Rhyl. There is no seniority between these two leagues as both are directly below the Welsh Premier and are just localised.
The equivalent to the Welsh League Division Two and Division Three is where things get confusing. Due to its vast geographical spread, the northern system splits into three localised leagues: Welsh National League (Wrexham area) covers the North-East, the Welsh Alliance League covers the North-West and the Mid-Wales League covers central Wales. Each of these leagues is the equivalent to Welsh League Division Two, they also each all have a second division and this provides us with the Welsh League Division Three equivalent.
Level 1: Welsh Premier League
Level 2: Welsh League Div One |Cymru Alliance
Level 3: Welsh League Div Two | Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Div One, Welsh Alliance Div One, Mid-Wales Div One
Level 4: Welsh League Div Three | Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Div Two, Welsh Alliance Div Two, Mid-Wales Div Two