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  Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Euro results trigger calls for change
Jamie Moralee of Barry Town after last season's 8-0 defeat to Porto
Welsh clubs have suffered heavy defeats in Europe
The only way to improve the results of League of Wales clubs in European competitions is to switch the league to a summer season.

That is the frank assessment of Alun Evans, the League of Wales representative at the Football Association of Wales.

Following Barry Town's exit from the Champions League at the first hurdle on Wednesday, concerns have again been raised about the performance of League of Wales clubs in Europe.

Various clubs from the league have now played a total of 78 matches in European club competitions since 1993.


We don't have the match fitness which is required for these competitions
League of Wales offical Alun Evans
They have managed just seven wins from those matches.

And Barry - who account for five of those seven wins - are the only club to progress through a round.

But there was such success this year as the Welsh champions lost 6-0 on aggregate to Skonto Riga of Latvia.

Evans believes that if the League of Wales season had already started by the time the European competitions come around - as in Scandinavia, for example - Welsh clubs would stand a better chance.


We're putting the best clubs we're allowed to put in the competitions
Alun Evans
"It's quite true that our record isn't good because of course we're playing out of season," said Evans.

"We don't have the match fitness which is required for these competitions.

"Indeed we've seen English Premiership clubs Aston Villa and Fulham struggle in the Intertoto Cup this year to a greater extent than little Caersws did when they played in June."

Wales' big three clubs - Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham - who play in the English league system, have been barred from representing Wales in Europe since 1995.

Uefa, Europe's governing body, insisted that only teams playing in the national league could qualify.

Former Wales captain Kevin Ratcliffe believes they must be allowed back into the fold if otherwise the results will continue to be a humiliation.

But that, according to Evans, is simply not an option.

"We're putting the best clubs we're allowed to put in the competitions," he said.

"When Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham decided they wanted to play in the English system, Uefa said fine.

"But they could only qualify for Europe through the English competitions, if the English FA would allow it.

"We had no say in this. There is a common fallacy that the Welsh FA deliberately excluded them. We haven't.

Caersws lost to Bulgaria side Marek Dupnitsa in June
"We fought for them - we fought for them last year and we'll continue to fight for them."

A widely held belief is that the performance of Welsh clubs in Europe affects the Fifa ranking of the national side.

"Fifa rankings are determined simply by the international team's results," Evans stressed.

League of Wales sides, though, are not the only ones to struggle against full-time European opposition.

Northern Irish champions Portadown were knocked out by Belarus side Belshina Bobruisk, and Irish champions Shelbourne lost to Hibernians of Malta on Wednesday.

Next season will see Ireland's Eircom League switching to a full blown summer season for the first time.

A similar move could soon be on the cards in Wales if the European nightmare continues.


League of Wales results in European competition:

Played 78, Won 7, Drawn 12, Lost 59, Goals For 50 Goals Against 221

See also:

24 Jul 02 | League of Wales
17 Jul 02 | League of Wales
24 Jul 02 | Wales
Links to more League of Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


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