From next month women’s football teams representing Airbus UK Broughton, Bethel, Connah’s Quay Nomads, Denbigh Town, Llandudno, Llanfair United, Pwllheli and Wrexham will compete in the newly-formed Adran North.
The elite eight are part of a new era for domestic football set to begin in September as a major restructure sees the launch of the Genero Adran Leagues.
The Football Association of Wales this week unveiled the name, structure and brand identity of the leagues signalling a new chapter for the women’s game in Wales.
The new leagues consist of an eight-team top tier, Adran Premier, a regional second tier with eight teams competing in both the Adran North and Adran South and an entirely new U19s regional league – with 22 teams forming Adran North U19s and Adran South U19s.
The decision has been made to remove ‘women’s’ from the rebranded league name to create parity across all FAW leagues, making Wales only the third country in Europe to make such a move and the first in the UK.
‘Adran’ continues the FAW’s commitment to using the Welsh language, meaning ‘division’.
The Adran Leagues have been sponsored by Genero, a vibrant production and creative events agency that has been established for 20 years.
The two-year deal between Genero and the Adran Leagues is the most lucrative sponsorship of women’s domestic football in Wales to date.
Players, fans and media were all involved in the rebranding of the league, taking part in focus groups and forums to inform the new name and brand with their own experience, the inspiration for a league launch film which calls out stereotypes and historical gendering of the game.
Lowri Roberts, head of women’s football at the FAW, said: “We want our players to feel empowered every time they step onto the pitch. Football has exactly the same rules no matter what gender you identify as, what country you’re from or what language you speak.
“In this new chapter for the domestic game in Wales, we want to make a statement that by removing ‘women’s’ from the league name, the game remains exactly the same – it’s football.
“The new structure will create clearer pathways, improved provision and games programmes, and support for players allowing us to better nurture our footballing talent in Wales.
“This gives our players a stronger platform to achieve their potential.
“In turn, this will serve both the Welsh representative in the UEFA Women’s Champions League and Cymru’s ambitions to qualify for a major international tournament.”
Eight teams – Cardiff Met, Cardiff City, Swansea City, Port Talbot Town, The New Saints, Aberystwyth Town, Pontypridd Town and Barry Town United – play home and away.
After these 14 matches, the top four clubs then play against each other and the same for the bottom four clubs, both home and away.
The Adran Premier champion will represent Wales in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. The team finishing 8th will be relegated to the Adran South / North.
ADRAN NORTH AND SOUTH
The eight Adran South and Adran North teams will play home and away. The North and South winners will compete in a play off with the winner promoted to the Adran Premier.
The U19’s league has been introduced to bridge the gap between youth and senior football with over 20 brand new teams across Wales, with clubs utilising their U19s as a key development tool for players progressing into their senior team.
The winners of the North and South will play against each other to be crowned the national under-19s champion.
The new Genero Adran Leagues website will be launching soon at AdranLeagues.Cymru.
TEAM PROFILES – ADRAN NORTH
Airbus UK Broughton
Formed close on 30 years ago, and at one time known as Broughton Wings Ladies, Airbus are twice past winners of the English North West Women’s Regional League.
They joined the North Wales Women’s Football League in 2011/12.
In 2012/13 they agonisingly missed out on the title to Kinmel Bay on goal difference (one goal in it), but did win the League Cup that season.
The women became part of the Airbus football family in 2016/17, allowing them access to top quality coaching and management which changed things enormously.
They won the League Shield in 2016/17 and have fared well in Division One since the NWWFL was split into two sections.
One of the most progressive clubs in North Wales, they possess a young, but very strong women’s side as well as a flourishing girls section which has provided so many quality senior players.
Bethel were joint winners of North Wales Women’s League Division One in 2018-19, the season they also reached two cup finals.
The Caernarfon-area team have also made it to the Welsh Cup quarter-finals twice.
Connah’s Quay Nomads
Only formed last season, but made quite an impact.
Then managed by Sara Hilton, Nomads finished unbeaten in North Wales Division Two in securing runners-up spot and also reached the Welsh Cup semi-finals.
The women are on the up at an amazing time for the club, with the men’s team having recently sealed back-to-back Cymru Premier titles.
North Wales League champions in 2014-15 and Betty Pickering Cup winners the season before, Denbigh also reached the Welsh Cup semi-finals in 2015-16.
Town have been a little less successful in recent times, but still held their own in North Wales Division One.
Ellen Lawson, who has a long association with the club as a player, was recently appointed first team manager.
Founder members of the Welsh Premier Women’s League when it went fully national in 2012-13 and spent two seasons there as Llandudno Junction.
Changed their name to Llandudno in 2014-15, then became MBi Llandudno the following season when they made it all the way to the Welsh Cup final, losing 5-2 to Cardiff City FC Women.
For the next three campaigns they were called Llandudno Ladies, but midway through 2019-20 they resigned in their eighth season in the top flight after years of travelling demands and struggling with player commitment took its toll.
Now looking to make a fresh start in Tier 2 North.
Although based in Powys, Mid-Wales, Llanfair have competed in the North Wales Women’s League for a number of seasons.
They have been a good asset to the league, finishing joint title winners in 2018-19 before claiming the crown outright in 2019-20 after a much-curtailed campaign due to coronavirus.
Lifted the Betty Pickering Cup and North East Wales FA Cup in 2018-19.
Strong side with several talented and experienced players.
Reached the Welsh Cup final back in 2005-06.
Have flitted between North Wales League Division One and Two in recent seasons, but a very popular team which always gives their best.
Beaten finalists in the Betty Pickering Cup in 2016-17, Pwllheli possess a number of excellent players, none more so than long-serving defender and manager Erica Jones, who is rated one of North Wales’ greatest ever.
Once the strongest team in North Wales, Wrexham were crowned Northern Conference champions in 2011-12 and were beaten 3-0 by UWIC in the Championship Final, which carried the prize of European football.
Wrexham entered the fully-national Welsh Premier the following season and finished third – the best-ever position for a northern team.
Sadly they dropped out of the WPWL for the 2015-16 season and disbanded.
The Racecourse Community Foundation resurrected the senior women’s side in 2018-19 and they won the Division Two League Cup.
Although league results were poor in Division One in 2019-20, the team and coaching structure has been revitalised this summer.
Wrexham have appointed former Airbus coach Mari Edwards as manager and signed a number of top players, including prolific goalscorer Rosie Hughes.
Legendary Wrexham AFC midfielder Gareth Owen is managing the under-19’s.