(Image: Barry Town United FC)

Cymru Premier average attendances hit record highs

When so many Welsh clubs play their football in England, is there a place for a national league? Statistics suggest there is.

AWAY from the bright lights of the English Premier League, the JD Cymru Premier, Wales’ top national division is drawing crowds.

Teams such as The New Saints, Connah’s Quay, and Barry Town ply their trade, undeterred by the popularity of English football.

Welsh clubs Cardiff City, Swansea City, Wrexham, Newport County, and Merthyr Town play their football in the English pyramid due to the financial benefits and larger audience.

But the JD Cymru Premier is on the way to its largest average attendances since statistics began in 2009.

According to Transfermarkt.co.uk, with 10 games remaining this season, average attendances of 355 already sit above the previous record of 354 set during the 2018/2019 season.

This marks a 9.91% increase on the league’s last fully recorded season in 2019/2020 before Covid disrupted live attendances for most of 2020/2021.

Barry Town fan Alex Lloyd, 39, said: “It is very important that we have a national football pyramid in Wales.”

“When you think about all the towns and villages represented in the Welsh League structure, it gives so many players a level to aim for.

“I know Cardiff, Swansea, and Newport are most people’s first thoughts when it comes to Welsh Football, but there are so many teams with proud traditions in the game outside of the big three.

“It is great to see that attendances are continuing to rise and that people are getting behind their local teams.”

Among the most popular teams in the Cymru Premier is Barry Town who have the second-highest average attendances this season with 475, only beaten by Caernarfon Town who have 587.

Barry have had to battle for their place in Welsh football ever since the club’s famous saga with former owner Stuart Lovering which saw the once-dominant Cymru Premier side drop down to the fourth tier of Welsh football.

Although a far cry away from the team that once defeated FC Porto 3-1 in a Champions League qualifier in 2001, the club’s recovery in returning to the top-flight has brought a sense of togetherness that few clubs can rival.

Former player Jonathon Hinder played in the academy when the club first went into administration and has seen the club grow from strength to strength.

He said: “I vividly remember turning up for training one day with all the other players and the gates were locked and we did not know why.

“We then found out the club had entered administration, which effectively ended all our contracts.

“After my career had ended, I returned to Barry as a physiotherapist and started working with the club once more in a medical capacity for a few months during the 2020 Summer Olympics.

“It was nice to see the same faces and familiar people still working hard behind the scenes.

“The main thing that had changed in the last 20 years, was the togetherness and grounded family feel the club now has, having been through so much.”

Barry’s FAW Premier Cup winning side of 1999 (Image: Barry Town United FC)

The club has been at the heart of the community since its inception in 1912.

So, with fans being allowed back in the stadium after lockdown, many have made the most of it.

Barry town councillor, Ian Johnson, who also edits the club’s matchday programme, said: “It’s good to see fans back in the ground after spending last season playing behind closed doors because of Covid.”