Goal has everything you need to know about why certain Welsh sides compete in the Premier League, which is consists of teams based in England

Swansea and Cardiff City are participants of the English Football League, though they are Welsh-based clubs – so how does their participation in the Premier League, Championship and League One in England work?

The likes of Scottish-based clubs play in their own league, same as Northern Ireland. Wales, it seems, are the only nation in which their sides participate in a cross-border league – and here’s what you need to know about it.

Swansea, along with Cardiff City, Newport County, Wrexham and Merthyr Town all play in the English Football League as when they were first formed, no Welsh football league had existed. And so, their only option was to join the English Football League – Cardiff doing so in 1920 and Swansea following suit in 1921 – and have been playing there ever since.

Though a Welsh Premier League (also known as Cymru Premier) was formed in 1992, the above clubs wished to remain playing in the English football league pyramid. 

Cardiff City, Swansea and Newport all compete in the English football league system and are all allowed to compete in the FA Cup, an English tournament. They used to be under the administration of the Football Association of Wales up until 2012, though their disciplinary functions are now handled by the English FA.

“All matters where the penalty can include sporting sanctions will be dealt with by the [English] FA, including doping and off-the-field issues,” said an FAW representative in 2011.

The likes of Wrexham and Merthyr Town, however, remain under the authority of the FAW.

Welsh teams playing in the English Premier League are ultimately the exception and not the rule.

Scottish teams still play in the Scottish Premiership, not the Premier League, and Northern Irish teams compete in the Northern Ireland Football League.

Swansea and Cardiff City are the two Welsh clubs who have played in the top tier of English top-flight football most consistently, with the Bluebirds also the only non-English team to have won the FA Cup (in 1927).

Their participation in the FA Cup final in 2008 led the English FA to ultimately allow Welsh clubs to represent England in UEFA competitions, such as the UEFA Cup, in the event that they won the final. They ended up losing to Portsmouth in the final, but FA’s rule change still stood. 

Swansea’s victory during the 2013 League Cup led them to become the first Welsh side to qualify for a European competition through the route of the English FA.

Mittie B Brack News

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