Why do Wrexham play in England? Reasons Welsh club is part of English football league and not Wales | Sporting News United Kingdom


Wrexham’s back-to-back promotions have seen them enter the headlines yet again as they secured League One status by finishing second in League Two in 2023/24.

Following on from the club’s 2021 buyout by Hollywood pair Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, Phil Parkinson’s team are now just two leagues away from competing in the Premier League.

Promotion to the English Football League saw the club back on the football league ladder for the first time 2008.

The EFL grants Welsh teams access to play in their leagues, with Wrexham plotting a path up through the divisions, under the ownership of Reynolds and McElhenney, to rival the biggest club sides in the country.

MORE: Wrexham record points total in National League: Ryan Reynolds club claims record league haul

Why do Wrexham play in England?

The main reason for Wrexham competing within the English league system is connected to both history and circumstance following the club’s formation in 1877.

At that point, there was no national Welsh league, with Wrexham, Cardiff City and Swansea City all joining the English Football League following its inception in 1921. Newport County also play in English football and are set to be opponents of Wrexham in League Two in 2023/24.

Prior to joining the EFL, Wrexham competed in The Combination League and the Birmingham & District League, with their 2008 relegation breaking an 87-year stay in the structure.

With Wrexham well established within the English system, they turned down an invitation to join the newly created League of Wales in 1992 (and latterly the Welsh Premier League in 2002) as clubs from across Wales made the move to a professional league.

Have Wrexham ever played in Wales?

With no formal national league in operation in Wales prior to 1992, Wrexham’s natural move towards playing within the English league was a natural decision, but they have competed in selected Welsh competitions in their history.

From 1894 to 1896, they competed in the local Welsh Senior League/Denbighshire League, before returning to The Combination, and joining the Birmingham & District League in 1905.

However, the most successful competition for Wrexham has been the Welsh Cup as the Red Dragons are the record holders in the competition with 23 titles.

Wrexham no longer competes in the Welsh Cup due to a UEFA decision to remove teams from the tournament that could qualify for a UEFA competition via two different domestic routes (England and Wales).

Wrexham trophies

  • Welsh Cup (23) — 1877/78, 1882/83, 1892/93, 1896/97, 1902/03, 1904/05, 1908/09, 1909/10, 1910/11, 1913/14, 1914/15, 1920/21, 1923/24, 1924/25, 1930/31, 1956/57, 1957/58, 1959/60, 1971/72, 1974/75, 1977/78, 1985/86, 1994/95.
  • FAW Premier Cup (5) — 1997/98, 1999/2000, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2003/04.
  • EFL Third Division (1) — 1977/78
  • The Combination (4) — 1900/01, 1901/02, 1902/03, 1904/05
  • Welsh Senior League/Denbighshire League (2) — 1894/95, 1895/96
  • Football League Trophy (1) — 2004/05
  • FA Trophy (1) — 2012/13

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