The league was officially formed in late 1991 starting for the 1992–93 season. At the time the Football Association of Wales (FAW), despite being a FIFA and UEFA member had not previously organised a National League, only the Welsh Cup. The League was known as The League of Wales until 2002 when it was changed to the Welsh Premiership and then the Welsh Premier League in 2004.
Traditionally, prior to 1991, the strongest teams in the Wales had played in the English Football League system including Aberdare Athletic, Cardiff City, Merthyr Town, Newport County, Swansea City and Wrexham with Bangor City being founder members of the Alliance Premier League in 1979. The Citizens also famously reached the final of the FA Trophy in 1984.
The league's formation saw a much publicised dispute between FAW and eight clubs who wanted to remain part of the English football pyramid. It was decided at the time that football league club's Cardiff City, Swansea City and Wrexham were able to continue to play in the English system but Bangor City, Barry Town, Caernarfon Town, Colwyn Bay, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, Newtown and Rhyl had to join the league - something which the club's disagreed with.
Prior to inaugural season Bangor City, Newtown and Rhyl all agreed to play in the League of Wales. Rhyl's application to join the league was late so they were placed in the second level of the newly organised Welsh pyramid system.
The five remaining clubs had to play their home matches in England with Barry Town joining the League of Wales after just one season in exile at Worcester City.
In 1995 a court ruling allowed the remaining four clubs to return home whilst still remaining within the English system. Caernarfon Town joined the league in the end with Newport County, Colwyn Bay and Merthyr Tydfil remaining in the English league system.
TEAMS IN THE FIRST 1992/93 SEASON & WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Cwmbran Town - Champions in the first season and also runner's up in 1997, 2000 and 2003 playing in Europe in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003. The club struggled from 2005/06 finishing in the relegation zone but avoiding the drop as no teams in the feeder leagues were eligible for promotion. In 2006/07 there were reported financial problems and they finished in 17th place and were relegated. Since 2011 they have played in the Gwent County League Division One.
Inter Cardiff - Merged with Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC) to form 'UWIC Inter Cardiff' in 2000 with the club now playing under the name of Cardiff Metropolitan University FC. The original Inter Cardiff (changed to 'Inter Cable Tel' from 1996) finished runner's up in the 1992/93 and 1993/94 seasons following it up with 10th, 8th, 2nd, 4th and 2nd finishes before the merger when the new club finished in 16th and 18th places when they were relegated in 2000/01. Cardiff Metropolitan University won the Welsh Football League Division One and were promoted to the Welsh Premier League where they have finished in 6th placed twice.
Aberystwyth Town - Still members of the top division in Wales. Their third placed finish in the 92/93 season is still their best.
Ebbw Vale - Finished 4th, 9th, 13th, 11th, 3rd and 3rd before they were expelled from the league before the 1998/99 for financial difficulties and the club unfortunately were dissolved.
Bangor City - Champions in 1994, 1995 and 2011. They were runner's up last season but controversially ended a 20 + year association with the league when they were relegated after the their stadium failed to receive a tier one domestic licence and UEFA licence for forthcoming season. The club sought legal advice but were unable to appeal the decision on financial grounds. They will play the 2018/19 season in the Cymru Alliance and will be considered by many as strong favourites for the title. It'll be interesting to see their results in their opening games against Buckley Town and Guilsfield.
Holywell Town - Relegated in 1997. Now members of the Cymru Alliance.
Conwy United - Relegated in 2000. Now playing as 'Conway Borough' and were Welsh Alliance Division One champions last season.
Connah's Quay Nomads - Still members of the Welsh Premier League and barring a two season stay in the Cymru Alliance between 2010 to 2012. Finished 2nd and 3rd in the last two seasons.
Porthmadog - Relegated in 1998 but gained promotion back in 2003 followed by relegation in 2010. Currently members in of Cymru Alliance.
Haverfordwest County - Only stayed for two season's from 1992 to 1994 following problems with the grading of their Bridge Meadow ground. They moved back to the Welsh top division in 1997 and stayed until 2011. They went up again for the 2015/16 season but came back down after a one season stay. Now members of the Welsh Football League Division One. In 2004 they played in the UEFA Cup Qualifying Round losing over 2 legs to Icelandic side
Caersws - Stayed in the Welsh top division until 2010 with a best finish of fourth in 2002. Caersws now play in the Cmryu Alliance where they finished in 13th place of 15 teams last season.
Afan Lido - The club have yo-yo'ed between the League of Wales/Welsh Premier Division and the Welsh League. Last in the top division since 2011 to 2014. Competed in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup qualifiers where they lost of aggregate to RAF Yelgava of Lativia.
Mold Alexandra - Relegated in 1995. Now members of the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division.
Llanelli - The original club were wound-up in 2013 over an unpaid tax debt but reformed later in the year. The new Llanelli Town joined the Welsh League Division Three - they were Champions of the Welsh League last season winning Division One which got them promotion to the Welsh Premier League.
Maesteg Park AFC - Spent three seasons in the league finishing 15th, 19th and 20th. The club were dissolved in 2010.
Flint Town United - Relegated in 1998 and have been members of the Cymru Alliance since with a top finish of 2nd in 2009/10.
Briton Ferry Athletic - Relegated in 1997 and dropped down the Welsh League from Division One to Division Three by 2009 when the club merged with Llansawel AFC to form Birton Ferry Llansawel who currently played in the Welsh League Division One.
Newtown - One of only two clubs to have unbroken membership of the league along with Aberystwyth Town. Finished second in 1996 and 1997.
Llanidloes Town - The Daffodils were relegated after just one season. They spent five years in the Cymru Alliance before dropping to the Mid Wales league and again to the Montgomery League. Finished third in the mid-wales league Division One last season.
Abergavenny Thursdays - Finished bottom of the pack in the inaugural season and were relegated. The club were dissolved in 2013 where they had dropped down to the Gwent County League Division Three.
A new club 'Abergavenny Town' were formed in June 2014 and they are now members of the Welsh League Division Two.
ABERGAVENNY THURSDAYS SPENT JUST ONE SEASON IN THE LEAGUE OF WALES
TOTAL NETWORK DOMINATION
The most successful club in the league are ironically based at ground outside of Wales in Shropshire!
Now known at 'The New Saints' they were founded in 1959 as 'Llansantffraid FC' and from 1997 to 2006 they were famously known as 'Total Network Solutions FC' after a sponsorship deal. In 2003 they merged (absorbed) with Oswestry Town and then three years later it adopted its current name of 'The New Saints of Oswestry Town & Llansantffraid Football Club'
Oswestry Town had been accepted in the League of Wales from 2000 to 2003 with Llanssantffraid playing in the league since 1993/94. TNS play at Park Hall in Oswestry after moving there in 2007 from the Recreation Ground in Llansantffraid
The club have won the title in 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and since 2012 they have dominated Welsh football winning the league for six years in a row along with the Welsh Cup in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and the Welsh Premier League Cup four years in a row since 2014 - they have won in a total of nine times!
The Shropshire town is quite a hot-bed of football as a new club 'FC Oswestry Town' were formed in 2013 as a successor to Oswestry Lions and they ground share with TNS. They play in the North West Counties League Division One (South) alongside 'St Martins FC' who play at 'The Venue' ground in the town.
WELSH FOOTBALL LEAGUE SYSTEM - 2018/19
WELSH PREMIER LEAGUE (Step One)
Barry Town United
Cardiff Metropolitan University
Connah's Quay Nomads
Llanelli Town AFC.
The New Saints
CYMRU ALLIANCE (Step Two)
* covers North and Central Wales
Flint Town United
The Mid Wales League, The Welsh Alliance League and the Welsh National League all feed into the Cymru Alliance subject to regulations.
WELSH FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION ONE (Step Two)
* covers South Wales
Briton Ferry Llansawel
Cambrian & Clydach Vale BGC
Port Talbot Town
People not in the know may think GOYTRE and GOYTRE UNITED are neighbours and would contest local derby games. In fact GOYTRE play in Goytre, Monmouthshire and GOYTRE UNITED play in Goytre, Neath Port Talbot. There is a 55 mile journey between the two grounds.
The Welsh Football League has Division Two and Division Three which then feed into various regional leagues.
2018/19 EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY
Even with the World Cup still in full swing the Welsh clubs have already began their European campaign. In the Europa League Preliminary Round Cefn Druids played Lithuanian club 'Trakai' going down 2-1 on aggregate and Bala Town lost 3-1 on aggregate to San Marino based club 'Tre Fiori'.
Connah's Quay Nomads take on 'Shakhtyor Soligorsk' of Belarus in the First Qualifying Round First Leg this Thursday. Prior to that The New Saints travel to Macedonia to play 'Shkëndija Tetovo' in the Champion's League First Qualifying Round.
THE NEW SAINTS PLAY IN MACEDONIA TOMORROW NIGHT
TNS's record in Europe to date is fifty games played, nine wins, six draws and thirty-five defeats. Their best performance was in 2010/11 when they got to the third qualifying round lost to Anderlecht. Since 2015 they have won each of their first qualifying round ties against B36 Torshavn, Tre Penne and Europa FC. Their opponents this year, Shkëndija Tetovo, are Champions of Maedonia.
JD WELSH PREMIER LEAGUE OPENING FIXTURES
Friday 10th August
Aberystwyth Town v Llandudno
Bala Town v Carmarthen Town
Cardiff Metropolitan v Newtown
Saturday 11th August
The New Saints v Barry Town United
Sunday 12th August
Caernarfon Town v Cefn Druids
Llanelli Town AFC v Connahs Quay Nomads
Friday 17th August
Aberystwyth Town v Cardiff Metropolitan
Connahs Quay Nomads v The New Saints
Newtown v Caernarfon Town
Saturday 18th August
Carmarthen Town v Llandudno
Cefn Druids v Llanelli Town AFC
Sunday 19th August
Barry Town United v Bala Town
HUWS GRAY ALLIANCE OPENING FIXTURES
Friday 10th August
v Gresford Athletic
v Ruthin Town
Saturday 11th August
v Buckley Town
Flint Town United
v Holyhead Hotspur
Saturday 18th August
v Conwy Borough
v Llanrhaeadr YM
v Flint Town United
v Bangor City
v Gresford Athletic
v Prestatyn Town