“ Sports: Football / Sport Topic: Football Leagues „
I guess I best start by saying that the League of Wales (LoW) isn’t really a foreign football, Wales is of course part of the United Kingdom but most people would know more about Italian or even German football than Welsh. Indeed, if you had asked me a year ago to name any teams in the LoW or even to suggest that there was one I probably wouldn’t have been able to. This has changed since I have come to university here in Aberystwyth, not only have I helped set up an Independent Supporters Club for my adopted team (The mighty black and greens of Aberystwyth Town) but have taken it upon myself to do as much as possible to raise the profile of what is the Premier League of Wales (ok, so far I’ve only written this opinion but the intent is there.) There has been a long history of football in Wales; some of the clubs competing in the national league have been around longer than English clubs, though traditionally they have only played in regional leagues. The LoW was set up in 1992 and was the first national football league that Wales had seen. The early seasons of course had teething problems but provided exciting and entertaining football for the nation. The early seasons were open affairs, attracting healthy gates of around 2,000. The late 90’s saw the domination of the league by Barry Town, a trend that has continued recently. The LoW looked to be in a healthy position. Although ‘young’ the League quickly secured sponsorship and the BBC bought TV rights. Not only have the BBC screened highlights but also screened live matches from the Premier Cup (qualification is taken from league position so is relevant!). This was just testament to the enormous potential the League had shown. The league of made up of 18 teams, 7 of which have been there since the start. The teams that take part are as follows; (all are semi-professional unless mentioned) Barry Town (Professional), Bangor City, Total Network Solutio
ns (Professional), Rhyl, Cwmbran Town, Caersws, Caernarfon, Connah’s Quay Nomads, Carmarthen Town, Aberystwyth Town, Afan Lido, Port Talbot Athletic, Newtown, Flexsys Cefn Druids, Havorfordwest County, Llanelli, Oswestry Town and Welshpool. The bottom three of the league get relegated into regional leagues and are replaced by teams that are top of their leagues and met all the ground pre-requisites, only Welshpool managed to get promoted this year (It’s a complex issue). More interestingly the League offers three European places. The champions are admitted to the Champions League, you may remember that Barry came up against Porto earlier this season in the qualifying rounds. Runner-up gets a UEFA Cup spot and third place gets into the Inter Toto. I’m in the incredible position that by following Aberystwyth Town I am more likely to see European football than by following Norwich City. Since September 2001 I have been to every Aberystwyth Town (term time) game, both home and away, so feel qualified to offer some kind of opinion. Aber has perhaps the best ground in the League, mainly because the board over spent on the ground after some promising European matches. We have the ‘Dias’ Stand behind the goal which any 3rd Division club would be proud of as well as having two stands along the sides of the pitch, this doesn’t sound much but I’ve been to Caersws where they literally have a dugout and a TV gantry. Aber also has an excellent youth set up (again funded by their European adventures). Extensive work with the youth of the area will hopefully provide a stable future for the club. There is a high quality infrastructure and facilities in place, such as excellent astro-turf pitches as well as ties with the university. What you really need to know about is the standard of football, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised. Without be disrespectful, some clubs like Rhayader and Caersws have to play
a hoof and run style that would probably see them struggling in the conference. Most of the football played however would comfortably fit into divisions two or three. Some of the football played by Barry and Bangor can be breathtaking and even at Aber there are some fantastic games. Usually the games are of a high pace, with players not getting to much time on the ball but this usually makes for an end-to-end games reflected by some of the scorelines, often ranging from 3-2 to 5-3. Inevitably however players that show a little composure or talent get whisked off to the English leagues. I would highlight Mark Delaney who moved from Carmarthen to Aston Villa or Eifion Williams who made it to Torquay. Standards are average, and can only get better as youth academies are set up. Support is dwindling somewhat, Aber average about 400 but some teams like Rhayader struggle along with 150-200. Obviously know football club can progress with gates so low, but it really isn’t there fault – something that I will come onto later in the op. Back in September I would have told you that atmosphere at the grounds was non-existent which simply isn’t the case. There was a particularly unique atmosphere about Aber, the fans were passionate about the game but not loud and would offer endless conversation in the ‘shed stand’. As I have already mentioned I have helped set up a supporters club – the U.W.A Greens. We have added a little bit more ‘noise’ to the affaires. Basically about 30 of us get behind the goal and do some chanting, just like I would be if I was at Carrow Road. We’re not the only ones who make the noise. Port Talbot have a Sheffield Wednesday style band and the bunch from Rhyl were exceptional. Something that we have found is that young children are now to be found in abundance at the games, there is something about drunken chanting that attracts them, these kids will be the supporters of the
future. Simply the image of quiet League of Wales grounds should be put right to the back of your mind. A League of Wales match is now a noisy affair. I have a painted a rather rosey picture of the LoW, but it is in danger of stagnating. The BBC has now decided not to screen LoW highlights and SC4 can only provide limited coverage. Consequnelty the League doesn’t have a sponsor, meaning that money is at a premium. Investment is difficult and there is little possibility of a lucrative sponsorship deal when there is no TV coverage. There is an online petition to reinstate LoW highlights to the TV screen, the address of which is included at the end of the op. It seems absurd that there is so little publicity, even the national newspapers, which included Irish and even obscure European results, negate to even mention the LoW. There is a distinct emphasis on rugby, which really isn’t as popular as you might have thought, highlighted by diminishing attendances. The League was set up to help promote grass roots football yet without TV coverage there is no way of encouraging people to come along or even to take it seriously, a vicious circle me thinks. The fact is that the League of Wales is still young, but has great potential. Potential that can’t be fulfilled without the support of the media. The players are committed and skilful. The crowds are passionate and willing. Everything is possible if some commitment is show. If you live near a LoW club and have always neglected it, I suggest you pop down at 2:30 on a Saturday and have a little look, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Some good websites to visit would be; www.low.org.uk (league of wales website) www.atfcnews.co.uk (the best club website - aber town) http://www.petitiononline.com/p11ankow/petition.html
To me the Premiership is getting better and better and will be soon, if not already, the best league in Europe. This season the teams representing the premiership have demonstrated just how good the premiership is getting. Three English teams reached the second stage of the Champion's league and two teams proceeded to the final stage. Arsenal were unlucky not to go through after losing out to Deportivo and Bayern Leverkusen, Man Utd finished top of their group and Liverpool secound after an infatic win over Barcelona in their last game. German and Spanish teams make up most of the other teams in the final stage, with Real Madrid favorites to win the competition. At the moment my opinion is that Spain has the strongest league in Europe with England not far behind. Germany would probably be third, they have a couple of strong teams with Bayern Munich and Leverkusen heading them, but the rest of the league is pretty weak. The increase in foreigners in the premiership is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons for English teams doing well in Europe. This may affect the English national team but I think its a problem the England is overcoming since Sven Gorn Erickson
Teajon Citizen, Ulsan Hyundai, Pusan Icons, Chonnam Dragons, Chonbuk Motors, Pohang Steelers and Songnam Ilhwa. The majority of the teams are sponsored by the big Korean conglomerates such as Lucky Goldstar and Samsung and are thus able to attract some foreign players. Curiously, there are currently no teams in Seoul, although Anyang, Bucheon and Songnam are on the Greater Seoul subway system. There are plans to form a Seoul team after the World Cup. The standard of play is not the best and the quality of the pitches in particular is shocking. However, there are some decent young Korean players and the David Beckham of Korea, Ahn Jong-won left for Perugia and the Serie A last year with much local fanfare. The best team is the Suwon Bluewings who also distingusished themselves in this year's Asian Cup Winners' Cup Attendances are very disappointing, however, and average crowds that struggle to get into four figures leave most clubs with a big financial shortfall. Some teams are hoping to move into the newly built World Cup stadiums next year in order to increase crowds. My adopted team is Taejon Citizen FC. They lack a big sponsor and were only formed in 1997 so they are definitely more Coventry City than Manchester United. However, being a Newcastle fan, success is something I've come to associate with clubs other than my own and, besides, this season Taejon are currently riding high in second place(perhaps an Ipswich comparison would be more appropriate). Ticket prices at the Hanbat Stadium, a ten minute walk from Taejon train station, are a mere six thousand won(about three pounds) and there are some very vocal fans to be found behind the Gymnasium end goal(the song to the tune of the Popeye theme with all the fans bowing in unison to the players is a particular joy). If the up-and-under style of play is not to your liking then console yourself with the knowledge that you can bring as much alcohol into the stadium as your arms can c
arry. It isn't exactly the Premier League but, six thousand miles from St James's Park, it'll do for me.
I have been to many places, to experience football and there are so many great leagues, all based within continents. I think European football is undoubedly the best because of the speed and the fitness involved in it. For example, everyone says that Brazilian leagues (I.e with teams like Corinthians) are the best, because there are so many grand players like Ronaldo and Rivaldo and Edmondson that come out of Brazil. The type of football played is a lot slower (maybe has something to do with the heat - but players still come out with gloves and sheepskin jackets in the winter!). The Asian football leagues have strongly developed over the years, and even though you see only a few coming to play in England, like the Japanese players for Arsenal, they are still good. I lived in Japan for a little while and experienced many great footballers and I visit regually having a Japanese wife so get to see many games. African football is also very good and is coming on nicely, but overall European football is undoubtedly the best because there are so many influences like money and sponserhip - although I do think this is a bad thing so from that point of view it is the worst league. But from general skil and talent, European leagues are the best.
The K-League currently has ten teams: Bucheon SK, Anyang LG Cheetahs, Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Teajon Citizen, Ulsan Hyundai, Pusan Icons, Chonnam Dragons, Chonbuk Motors, Pohang Steelers and Songnam Ilhwa. The majority of the teams are sponsored by the big Korean conglomerates such as Lucky Goldstar and Samsung and are thus able to attract some foreign players. Curiously, there are currently no teams in Seoul, although Anyang, Bucheon and Songnam are on the Greater Seoul subway system. There are plans to form a Seoul team after the World Cup. The standard of play is not the best and the quality of the pitches in particular is shocking. However, there are some decent young Korean players and the David Beckham of Korea, Ahn Jong-won left for Perugia and the Serie A last year with much local fanfare. The best team is the Suwon Bluewings who also distingusished themselves in this year's Asian Cup Winners' Cup Attendances are very disappointing, however, and average crowds that struggle to get into four figures leave most clubs with a big financial shortfall. Some teams are hoping to move into the newly built World Cup stadiums next year in order to increase crowds. My adopted team is Taejon Citizen FC. They lack a big sponsor and were only formed in 1997 so they are definitely more Coventry City than Manchester United. However, being a Newcastle fan, success is something I've come to associate with clubs other than my own and, besides, this season Taejon are currently riding high in second place(perhaps an Ipswich comparison would be more appropriate). Ticket prices at the Hanbat Stadium, a ten minute walk from Taejon train station, are a mere six thousand won(about three pounds) and there are some very vocal fans to be found behind the Gymnasium end goal(the song to the tune of the Popeye theme with all the fans bowing in unison to the players is a particular joy). If the up-and-under style of play is not to your liking then console
yourself with the knowledge that you can bring as much alcohol into the stadium as your arms can carry. It isn't exactly the Premier League but, six thousand miles from St James's Park, it'll do for me.
I have followed football since iwas about 5 and have been facsinated with the way that professional footballer's can control and pass the ball to almost any where they want. The way that they can run and perform skill's with the ball has amazed me. This is one reason that has attracted me to the foreighn leagues.The English Premiership is becoming too predictaaable with Manchester United winning everything under the english sun or not as the case maybe.The season so far in the Serie A is atopsy turvy one with people like Bari beating Lazio. This season it us too much of a draw to predict a final champion ,althogh my money is on Juventus,although Lazio were league champion's last season they have failed to carry out their consistant run of win's that took them to the top of the Searie A. The game of English football has begun to bore me ,so i went in veiw of enlightenment and found it in the Italien league.Most of the world's bet known players are found in this league ,Nedved,Crespo,David's and the illusive Zidane who demonsrates his amazing skill in almost every game. As iam an Everton supporter this season is not going too well and the 3-0 defeat we suffered at the hand's of Tranmere just enhanced my affectoin for forieghn Leagues. Iam sure u don't all support Mnchester united so if u r kike me turn to the Serie A and forget the team u left behind. Please e - mail me if u r in the same state of mind.at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have mixed opinions when it comes to overseas players coming to play in the Premiership. First off the very best don't come, they prefer the Italian or Spanish leagues (e.g. Del Piero, Vieri, Ronaldo, Denilson). The ones we do get do help our youngsters develop at training, but at the disadvantage of stopping some of the talented youngsters playing first team football. The next thing I noticed is that as more and more foreign players come to play here they are not keeping the young superstars like Joe Cole, Kieron Dyer and Michael Carrick out, as they will always get in most teams squads because of there sheer class and talent. Instead they fill up the reserve team with them and as a result the young English players that will never be stars on their own, but are solid, reliable replacements. Good examples are Steve Howie, Steve Watson and Nicky Summerbee. If these are stopped from improving the game will be less well off. I recommend a limit to numbers of foreigners in the overall squad and limits in reserve matches, but not in the full squad to keep the entertainment and excitement high.
Everyone is always going on about how some of the best footballing sides in the world are Italian one. In my opinion I think it is full of cheating forigners. When ever a British side plays a team from Italy or even Spain the players are consistantly diving around and telling the referees either to book a player or that they have got a disision wrong. The time that they cheat most is in the penelty areas when they have been challenged by a defender they take a dive. Sometimes the referee spots it and usually books the player but sometimes he will not and he will aword the penilty.
This includes opinions on football leagues and their teams outside England and Scotland, for example on the French football league, the Spanish football league and the German football league.