The Pyramid Review
The FAW has produced this list of frequently asked questions about the Welsh football Pyramid Review.
In the FAW’s “2020 vision and strategic plan for Welsh football”, the FAW committed to the following strategic objective;
“Stronger clubs operating at levels 1 and 2 following a successful restructure of the FAW Pyramid and a greater number of clubs attaining the National Licence.”
The Pyramid Review was established to ensure that the Association addressed this key objective for the domestic game in Wales.
The FAW’s National Game Board (NGB) established a Working Group to review the Welsh Football Domestic Pyramid structure in September 2014.
Following a review of Tier 1, where it was agreed that no structural changes would be recommended, the Working Group identified one weakness being the magnitude of the step up from Tier 2 to Tier 1 and agreed the following;
- To implement a standard Tier 2 Ground Criteria for implementation in April 2017 (which was latterly deferred until April 2018). This is aimed at improving facilities at Tier 2 and to reduce the gap between the standard facilities at Tiers 1 and 2.
- To reward the Tier 2 clubs with up to £3,000 per club, for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons, for working towards and achieving the Tier 2 Ground Criteria Regulations.
- To reward the promoted clubs to the Welsh Premier League £10,000 in their first year within the WPL to assist with operational costs.
- To make up to £50,000 available to each of the two promoted clubs to upgrade the stadium facilities, ensuring all Tier 1 infrastructure criteria are adhered to.
- The Working Group then focused on the structure of the Pyramid from Tiers 2 down and developed the terms of reference for a study, which covered the following key areas during a series of meetings between April and September 2017:
- The approach to the work
- Strengths and limitations of the existing structure
- Potential new structure
- Definitions for the different tiers
- Finance and commercial opportunities
- Governance and management of the Leagues
The key findings and recommendations were shared with the key decision-making bodies of the FAW and later approved by the FAW Council in October 2017.
Six FAW Council members with a strong understanding of the domestic game, representing all areas of Wales, were elected on to the Working Group by the FAW Council. Andrew Howard, FAW Head of Competitions and Llyr Robers (Independent consultant) supported the process.
The recommendations of the Working Group were shared with the FAW Community Game Board, National Game Board, International Game Board and the FAW ExCo before being discussed and approved by the FAW Council in October 2017, by a strong majority vote.
At the December 2017 FAW Council Meeting, the FAW approved the FAW Pyramid Regulations for the 2020/21 season. These Regulations which will come into force on August 1st, 2020 include all the agreed Pyramid Review changes.
At the April 2018 FAW Council Meeting, the FAW approved the FAW Pyramid Regulations for the two transitional seasons. These Regulations which will come into force on August 1st, 2018 include all the agreed Pyramid Review changes for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons.
The Pyramid League System provides football clubs throughout Wales with a framework of competitive men’s football appropriate to their playing standards, ground facilities and economic means and permits the seasonal movements of clubs between the leagues in an orderly manner.
Yes, the FAW has researched and considered the strengths and weaknesses of various National structures from other countries in the UK, Ireland and similar sized countries in Europe.
This has been a long-term objective of the project plan. Clubs were consulted during the development of the Welsh football 2020 vision and strategic plan, More than a game. More than a game highlights a need to have “stronger clubs operating at levels 1 and 2 following a successful restructure of the FAW Pyramid and a greater number of clubs attaining the National Licence.”
The FAW must take a strategic, pan-Wales approach when developing the game in Wales. This needs to be taken into account when developing the structure. This is about providing the structure and the support so that our clubs become stronger and sustainable. The next step was to consult with the clubs.
All Member Clubs were invited to provide written feedback to the FAW throughout December 2017 as part of the Consultation process.
In January 2018, three face-to-face meetings were held in Cardiff, St Asaph and Newtown to answer any questions from the Clubs. These were very well supported at all three venues.
The FAW Council approved the FAW Tier 2 Ground Criteria Regulations on 29th April 2015 (updated on 17th December 2015 and 28th February 2017).
All clubs wishing to play at Tier 2 from 2018/18 season, must achieve the Tier 2 Ground Criteria Regulations by 30thApril annually, with the first assessment on 30thApril 2018.
The assessment of the Tier 2 criteria is made by an independent panel of experts. There is also a separate, independent Appeals Body, which will convene to hear any appeals. All members are independent of the FAW.
The FAW Council unanimously approved the FAW Tier 3 Ground Criteria Regulations in December 2017. These were sent to all clubs in Tiers 2, 3 and 4 on 30th January 2018.
They are designed to raise standards, to make grounds more comfortable and safer. They are a natural stepping stone to achieving the Tier 2 Regulations.
All clubs playing at Tier 3 in the 2017/18 season were canvassed for their feedback for a self-assessment against Tier 2 Regulations earlier this year. The FAW received 47 replies (out of 63) and this information was used as a benchmark to set the criteria.
All work to achieve the mandatory criteria must be completed by April 30th, 2020 in order to participate at Tier 3 in the 2020/21 season. The assessment of the Tier 3 criteria will be made by an independent panel of experts. There is also a separate, independent Appeals Body, which will convene to hear any appeals. All members are independent of the FAW.
The FAW assists its Clubs with stadium grants through the Welsh Ground Improvement Fund (WGI).
In June 2017, FAW Council approved the WGI grants for the period 2017- 2019. They Policy is as follows;
Funding levels for 2017/18 WGI
Level Investment Leagues Total Max Grant %
Level 2 £200,000 (Total) £200,000 75%
Level 3 £40,000 4 £160,000 80%
Level 4 £20,000 4 £80,000 90%
WPWL £20,000 1 £25,000 90%
Level 5 £20,000 1 £25,000 90%
Admin £20,000 20,000
Pitch Improvement Fund £100,000
Promoted Clubs into WPL £100,000
Funding levels for 2018/19 WGI
Level Investment Leagues Total Max Grant %
Level 2 £100,000 (Total) £100,000 75%
Level 3 £60,000 4 £240,000 80%
Level 4 £30,000 4 £120,000 90%
WPWL £25,000 1 £25,000 90%
Level 5 £25,000 1 £25,000 90%
Pitch Improvement Fund £100,000
Promoted Clubs into WPL £100,000
In the 2017/18 season, 64% of referees were based in the three southern Area Associations, with 36% based in the northern Area Associations. As the new pyramid structure will be more equalised in terms of North/South club representation, the FAW is confident that the following number of match officials will be appointed to all matches in the new pyramid;
Tier 1 Referee, 2 x Assistant Referee, 1 x 4thOfficial
Tier 2 Referee, 2 x Assistant Referees
Tier 3 Referee, 2 x Assistant Referees
Tier 4 Referee only.
All officials in Tiers 1 and 2 will be appointed by the FAW Competitions department from 2019/20 season.
- This area is currently being considered by the NGB and any recommendation must be approved by the FAW Board.
- Potential funding can be invested through Welsh Ground Improvements to upgrade the grounds. Neither the Policy, nor the level of investment, has been agreed beyond the 2018/19 season yet.
- The FAW has not yet agreed on any incentive payments to achieve the individual club action plan.
- Having analysed the revenue and expenditure of the current setup, the Working Group considered future opportunities.
- The FAW has worked hard over the years to increase the Welsh Premier League’s commercial value and there could be opportunities to increase this income by extending the community-wide offer with sponsors reaching 108 clubs/communities as opposed to 12. However, there is also an opportunity to package and separate the new FAW Championship and FAW League 1 from the WPL, thus maximizing commercial opportunities.
- The FAW will be responsible for the commercialisation of the Tier 2 Leagues and can assist the Tier 3 Leagues as well. The FAW believes that the value of commercial income in Tier 2 will increase following the re-structure.
- An initial review of expenditure suggests that there may be opportunities to reduce spend through the centralisation of activities. A saving of approximately £17,000 alone can be achieved on honoraria, stationery, accountancy, and match balls.
- The Working Group agreed that the new structure would lead to greater commercial opportunities and cost reductions.
The final season of the current Tier 2 structure (Huws Gray Alliance and Welsh Football League division 1 will be the 2018/19 season. The FAW will own and administer the two Tier 2 Leagues from the 2019/20 season.
The FAW doesn’t know this at present, as the Tier 3 Ground Regulations have only recently been agreed. However, the feedback that the FAW received during the consultation phase suggested that almost 50% of the existing clubs were close already. Clubs were given over two years to achieve the standards with the deadline date being April 30th, 2020.
All Tier 3 clubs will be provided with Action Plans from the FAW in the 2018/19 season and this will provide both the FAW and the Club with an up to date work plan, designed to help the club achieve the Criteria.
This process was successful during the planning and implementation of Tier 2 Ground Criteria, where 47 clubs achieved the standards, when only 32 clubs were required.
Who and how will clubs be selected to play in the North or South Wales structure? Will clubs have a choice?
Clubs won’t be selected, they will earn their place based on the following criteria;
- Tier 3 Ground Criteria Certification
- Sporting Merit
Clubs wishing to play at Tier 3 are accepting a place in the Regional structure and can therefore play in any of the four regional Leagues. However, the geography of each of the 64 clubs will be carefully considered to try to group the clubs as close as possible.
There may be some additional travel requirements for some clubs within the new structure, however other clubs will benefit from reduced travel. An important element of the new structure is the definitions of each Tier, which is as follows;
Full Member Clubs who have attained the Tier 1 licence playing at National League level, aspiring to play in European football. The League is administered by the FAW.
Full Member Clubs who have attained the Tier 2 Ground Regulations and playing at National League level, aspiring to play at Tier 1 of the Pyramid. The League is administered by the FAW with a Tier 2 license a potential future development.
Full Member Clubs who have attained the Tier 3 Ground Regulations playing at Regional League level, aspiring to play within the National System. The League is administered by a Directly Affiliated League, on behalf of the FAW.
These definitions help to define what a Club’s ambition should be. Clubs participating at Tiers 1 and 2 are participating at National level and therefore, should be prepared to travel Nationally. Clubs participating at Tier 3 play at a Regional level and therefore, travel could be anywhere within the four Regions, crossing Area Association boundaries, as defined by the FAW. Tiers 4 and below are the responsibility of the Community Game Board and travel at this level of the pyramid should be local and within the Area Association of which the Club is located.
This page will continue to be updated as further decisions are confirmed by the FAW.
THE FAW PYRAMID - 2018/19 SEASON
THE FAW PYRAMID - 2019/20 SEASON
THE FAW PYRAMID - 2020/21 SEASON