Welsh FA launches major overhaul of its top tier league with expansion on and off the pitch

April 24 – The Welsh FA (FAW) has launched a six-year strategy through to 2030 for the overhaul of the top tier of its men’s league, the JD Cymru Premier League, to make it more competitive on and off the field, and boost its commercial positioning as it reformats both the league and its calendar.

The plan, which will see the FAW invest £6 million in the league, will see it eventually move to playing the bulk of its league matches on Friday nights, with the bold intention of moving the whole schedule to Fridays for the 2026/27 season.

In a round of presentations to league and federation stakeholders, FAW head of domestic leagues Jack Sharp said that following a wide consultation process, Friday nights was identified as the best “window for our product”.

However, he also said that there was a lot of work to get there.

Sharp said that the league will get bigger with an expansion of the top flight. This will come from teams graduating from the second tier which at the same time, he said, needs to be given the resource to be able to compete.

In essence it is the creation of a bigger pool of competitive clubs that will drive the anticipated growth of the league with more fans supporting their local clubs and higher value commercial relationships buying into an expanded Welsh football product.

Sharp said league will expand

To get to that point Sharp said the FAW will “work with clubs over the next 24 months to strengthen their foundations”.

The strategic vision involves a multi-point offensive across the key areas of player and match day development, improvement of facilities, and a strengthening of administrative skill sets within clubs and the league.

The FAW will invest €860,000 to include help with professional contracts for players, a review of the loan system, greater contact time between the players and, the introduction of VAR Light. The FAW also said it would “enhance support programmes for clubs in European competitions”.

A further £1 million will be invested to boost the administrative standards of clubs, including “providing grants for operational roles, assisting with legal structures, and implementing new training programs to foster club development.”

The improvement of club stadia is vital to improving matchday experiences and stadium image and the FAW has earmarked €1 million to improving club facilities.

The intention is put clubs deeper into the hearts of their local communities with the development of strategiccommunity programmes, as well as the creation of supporter boards “to capture fan feedback, fostering a deeper connection between clubs and their local communities.”

Increased profile for the clubs and the league will be driven by a rebranding league and marketing initiative.

“A substantial investment of €1 million will be directed towards bolstering the profile and brand of the Cymru Premier domestically and internationally. This will involve defining a new brand vision, expanding digital content, and supporting clubs in enhancing their individual brands,” said the FAW.

“By investing in infrastructure, community engagement, and brand development, the aim is to elevate the Cymru Premier into a thriving league that resonates locally and competes globally.”

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