The winners of the Nathaniel MG Cup from the 2019/20 season will be awarded a place in the SPFL IRN-BRU Cup for the following campaign as part of a radical shake up of the competition.
In other changes to reflect the new domestic pyramid structure, there will be an increased number of teams participating in the Nathaniel MG Cup and consideration is being given to the removal of extra time.
The competition will now become the League Cup for the top two tiers of Welsh football, as the FAW takes control of the Tier 2 leagues in the north and south. As a result, this will see the number of participating clubs increase from 28 to 46.
Forty-four spaces are allocated to the 12 JD Welsh Premier League (JDWPL) and 32 sides playing in what will be the new ‘FAW Championship’ Tier 2 leagues.
The wildcard spaces, a popular feature of the competition in recent seasons, will remain, with two teams from outside Tiers 1 and 2 being granted the final two spaces each season.
In what will be seen as a positive move amongst clubs and supporters, the winner of the Nathaniel MG Cup will now qualify for the SPFL’s IRN-BRU Cup, taking Wales’ second nominated spot alongside the winners of the JDWPL.
Welsh sides have reached the semi-finals of the IRN-BRU Cup in each of the three seasons that the competition has been opened to clubs from outside of Scotland, with Connah’s Quay Nomads still currently in the competition this season.
Entry into the IRN-BRU Cup has been well received by Welsh clubs and this move offers an increased number of teams the chance to qualify for
Should the winners of the Nathaniel MG Cup also win the JDWPL, then the IRN-BRU spot reverts to the League, with the second-placed team in the JDWPL qualifying instead.
The Welsh Premier League Panel is also exploring the possibility of removing extra time, with all future games in the competition going straight to penalties if the scores are level after 90 minutes. Any such changes to the competition rules can only be passed by the Welsh Premier League AGM, which takes place in early June.
State of play
The Nathaniel MG Cup will kick-off the 2019-20 season, with Rounds 1 and 2 being played over the first two weekends of August. The JDWPL, along with the Tier 2 leagues, will then kick off on the weekend of 16-18 August 2019.
Twenty-eight clubs will enter in Round 1, which will be made up of any club without floodlights; the two wildcard entries; and the remaining teams ranked lowest in their respective Tier 2 league from the previous season. Round 1 will be regionalised, as will all rounds up to the Semi-Final stage.
The fourteen winners will join the eighteen remaining sides in Round 2. This will be seeded so that JDWPL sides are not drawn against one another.
The competition will then progress to the last sixteen and so forth, with Rounds 3 and the Quarter Finals being played in midweek. The Semi-Finals will be played on the second to last weekend of November, with the draw here being open, before the Final in January 2020.