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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 11:11 GMT
Welsh exiles' Europe plan pitched
Welsh football
Welsh football chiefs will discuss plans that could allow Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham to qualify for Europe.

Those three play in the English pyramid system and Uefa, Europe's governing body, insists that only teams playing in their national leagues can qualify.

So the plan calls for Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham to be permitted to field teams in the Welsh Premier League.

But Uefa has always insisted that clubs play in the domestic competitions of only one national football association.

However, with Michel Platini taking over as Uefa president from Lennart Johansson in January 2007, the feeling is that the new man in charge may be more open to new proposals.

606: DEBATE

Such a plan has always been an exciting one for Welsh football at large, ever since the creation of a domestic Welsh League in 1992 effectively ended Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham's regular European participation.

The three clubs were frequent participants in the old European Cup Winners' Cup through the Welsh Cup.

But that route was closed off to them after they, along with Colwyn Bay, Merthyr and Newport, opted to continue in the English League rather than join the League of Wales when it was established.

Uefa has since rejected all proposals designed to give those clubs a path into Europe through Welsh competitions as long as they continued to play in the English system.

In 2001 and again in 2004, Uefa rejected a bid for Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham to play in the Welsh Cup precisely because of that reason.

When former Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam floated a plan to buy Welsh Premier club Cwmbran Town and use Bluebirds players to qualify for Europe, that also fell foul of Uefa rules.

The likelihood is that Uefa will continue to frown on similar proposals, while any such move risks alienating existing Welsh Premier clubs and possibly the Football Association in England as well.

When Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham opted to continue playing in the English pyramid, the expectation was that they could qualify for Europe by doing well in that system.

But since then the FA has maintained that only English clubs would be nominated for European competition, leaving the exile clubs in a European limbo.

The political climate of Uefa has changed and now is the time to take advantage

Former Football Association of Wales secretary Alun Evans

The new plan is contained in a document drawn up by former Football Association of Wales secretary Alun Evans entitled 'FAW Strategic Plan 2007-2012'.

The FAW commissioned the report and will discuss its implications next week, before deciding whether or not to put any of those proposals to Uefa bosses.

"It's a plan for five years for the Welsh FA and it covers all Welsh football," Evans told BBC Sport Wales.

"As far as the Welsh Premier League was concerned, I felt it needed a shake-up.

"Cardiff City, Swansea and Wrexham out teams into the Welsh Premier League - we've gone beyond first and second teams now with squad systems.

"Politically, economically and regulatory it wasn't suitable (for Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham to continue playing in Welsh domestic football) when we created the Welsh League in 1992.

"I think the political climate of Uefa has changed and now is the time to take advantage of that situation."



SEE ALSO
Exiles suffer Cup set-back
10 Jun 04 |  Football
Uefa rejects Welsh clubs' bid
10 Oct 01 |  Wales
BBC Sport Wales coverage
24 Dec 06 |  Wales


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