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The Premier Cup has been a cash lifeline for many Welsh Premier clubs [Keith Williams/Sportpixs]
THE FAW may well have dealt a major body blow to its own domestic league to satisfy the European ambitions of Cardiff City chief Sam Hammam.
News that the Association is close to inviting six exiled clubs back into the Welsh Cup could be the death knell for the lucrative FAW Premier Cup.
And it will almost certainly mean the loss of one potential European place for the Welsh Premier, plus a haemorrhage of cash from the domestic league.
If the new Welsh Cup plans get the green light - along with a boost in prize money to 50,000 - all the Nationwide clubs could pull out of the BBC-sponsored Premier Cup, leaving it shorn of its only glamour appeal.
It would be another massive blow for BBC Wales, already mourning the loss of Welsh soccer TV rights to Sky.
The Corporation was reported to be in final negotiations to sponsor next season's Premier Cup, but a scaled-down version would presumably be of limited value for live TV coverage without the 'big three' to draw a viewing audience.
Competition for the Premier Cup places adds spice to the league contest each season - and the qualifiers receive a minimum of 6,500 just for taking part, vital income for any domestic club.
Should Rhyl win the trophy next month, it is estimated they will take more than 110,000 in revenue from their success.
A possible one-match exit from the knockout Welsh Cup competition will hardly compensate for the loss of six games in the Premier Cup's group stages, plus a potential quarter-final against Nationwide opposition.
Hammam, who threatened Cardiff's withdrawal before this season's Premier Cup, branded the competition as 'Minnie Mouse' in a scathing attack and says the Bluebirds will not participate next season.
"It is simply not worth me risking key players at this club to win it or to take part in the matches," he said. "We don't take the competition seriously. In fact, we have used players aged just 16 and 17."
The FAW is believed to have told the exiles that it will be up to them to lobby Uefa for the right to take their place in the Uefa Cup.
Hammam has pressed for Cardiff to return to the Welsh Cup ever since taking over the reins at Ninian Park.
"This club and our brother clubs Swansea City and Wrexham should be in the Welsh Cup - they are Welsh aren't they?"
"We should be in the Welsh Cup - and the club that wins that competition should be nominated by their association to go forward and represent their country in Europe in true and honest fashion.
"In the past, have we really put the best clubs in Wales forward to represent this country? The answer is no," said the Bluebirds' owner.
20 April 2021
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