Cardiff City tempted by Welsh Cup return

The Welsh Cup
The Welsh Cup is world football's third-oldest cup competition

Boss Dave Jones says Cardiff City would gladly accept an invitation to re-enter the Welsh Cup - provided a place in Europe was available to the winners.

The FA of Wales wants Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham, Colwyn Bay, Newport and Merthyr to play in their flagship competition after a 16-year absence.

Since 1995, only clubs from the Welsh pyramid have been eligible to play.

"If there's a European spot then I'm sure myself and the other guys at their clubs would welcome it," said Jones.

Cardiff and all the other Welsh clubs playing in the English league pyramid were barred by the FAW from entering the Welsh Cup in 1995 after pressure from Uefa.

European football's governing body made it clear that those clubs could not play in the FA Cup and in the Welsh Cup.

As a result, all the clubs decided to relinquish their place in the Welsh Cup, and the competition has since lost much of its profile and prestige.

But a route to play in European competition - at present the Europa League - remains available to the winners, and has proved to be an invaluable source of income to those Welsh Premier clubs to have lifted the cup in recent years.

However the FAW is now eager to boost the competition's image, and believes that inviting Wales' most popular and successful clubs is the best way to achieve that goal.

An official invitation to enter next season's competition will soon be sent to the six clubs, and vice-president Trefor Lloyd Hughes has confirmed that the FAW would be happy to nominate any of them to represent Wales in Europe should they win.

"We think that by having them in, it would raise the profile of the Cup and would help improve the playing standard of the clubs in the Welsh Premier," said Hughes.

"We would put their names forward to Uefa and it would then be Uefa's decision, not the FAW's, whether or not to allow them to play in Europe."

Cardiff have won the Welsh Cup 22 times, their last success coming in 1993. The competition represented their only realistic route into Europe, and some of the club's most memorable moments have come in Uefa's European Cup Winners' Cup competition.

They reached the semi-finals in 1967-68, losing to German side Hamburg 4-3 over two legs, and many fans consider the 1-0 victory over Real Madrid in the first leg quarter-final tie in 1971 as the club's finest hour.

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