THE Football Association of Wales (FAW) has announced the clubs that will play in the new Tier 1 and Tier 2 leagues in the 2021/22 season, replacing the Welsh Premier Women’s League.
In August, the FAW will unveil a new visual identity and name for the top two tiers and the new U19s league, signalling a new era of domestic women’s football in Wales.
WPWL Club Representative on FAW Council, Gail Powell, said: “The new structure will have a major impact on development and sustainability and we are looking forward to the new season in 2021/22 with a new look Tier 1, Tier 2 and U19s divisions.”
The re-structure was implemented following a full review of the pyramid in 2020, which included consultation with clubs, players, leagues and officials at all levels. The outcome highlighted key changes required in the top two tiers of the pyramid whilst also addressing the significant gap between U16s and senior football.
The new pyramid structure includes eight teams in Tier 1 and the introduction of a new regional Tier 2 league in the North and South, also with eight in each league and a new U19s league in north and south Wales. The clubs were selected following a rigorous independent licensing process and a thorough review of clubs development and sustainability plans.
Wrexham AFC Women are one of the teams that had applied to play in the new leagues and they will play in the Tier 2 North League.
Luke Wynne’s Dragons will be joined in the new second-tier regional league by Airbus UK Broughton, Bethel, Connah’s Quay Nomads, Denbigh Town, Llandudno, Llanfair United and Pwllheli.
The FAW’s major restructure of the domestic women’s game was implemented following a full review of the pyramid in 2020.
The new pyramid structure includes eight teams in the top division, Tier 1, and the introduction of a new regional Tier 2 league in the North and South with eight teams in each league. There will also be a new Under-19s league in North and South Wales.
Head of female football, Gemma Owen said: “We are delighted to be a founding member of the newly formed Tier 2 North league and can’t wait to start the season.
“This is a pivotal moment for women’s football in Wales and we couldn’t be happier to be involved. The support for this team at the club has been clear for all to see. We’d like to show our appreciation to Wrexham AFC along with the club’s media team for supporting us through this application and committing time and resources to the team.
“Luke and the Women’s first-team staff are already putting in the work to prepare for the upcoming season and they have our full support.
“We have some serious ambition for our women’s side. We want to be competing at the very top and central to that will be the support of the Wrexham AFC fans and the community.
“Every little gesture will not go unnoticed whether it be a message of support on social media or attending a game when it’s safe to do so.”
As well as success on the pitch, Gemma reiterated the club’s desire to boost the game in Wrexham and wider Wales too.
“We aim to reward the supporters with success on the pitch, but we also remain committed to working within the community in collaboration with the Racecourse Community Foundation in order to continue to grow the female game,” she added.
“Our players and staff will play a key part in this growth, not only in Wrexham but in surrounding communities across North Wales and beyond.
“Once again we’re excited to be a part of this league and hopefully Wrexham AFC Women will be able to play a considerable role in expanding and growing the female game in Wales for years to come.”
Lowri Roberts, FAW Head of Women’s Football, said of the restructure: “It’s been inspiring to see the level of work clubs have put into their application.
“We’ve seen a real shift in mindset from the clubs in how they are developing elite environments for players and how they are building for a sustainable future.
“As a result, all clubs will be collectively striving to continuously improve standards in a competitive environment.”
The clubs in Tier 1 and Tier 2 for the 2021/22 season are as follows:
· Aberystwyth Town
· Barry Town United
· Cardiff City
· Cardiff Met University
· Pontypridd Town
· Port Talbot Town
· Swansea City
· The New Saints
Tier 2 North:
· Airbus UK Broughton
· Connah’s Quay Nomads
· Denbigh Town
· Llanfair United
Tier 2 South:
· Briton Ferry Llansawel
· Caldicot Town
· Cardiff Bluebelles
· Cascade YC
· Merthyr Town
· Swansea University