Cardiff City LFC: Wales’ Best Kept Secret?

Cardiff City LFC, playing in the National League in England, look to take the club to the next level while trying to keep up with other clubs that benefit from the shared resources with a professional men’s team. This Cardiff City is different to the Bluebirds’ Cardiff City Women, who are part of Cardiff City Football Club and play in the Welsh top tier.. even though their men’s team play in England. Confusing, right!

Cardiff City LFC, also known as Cardiff City Ladies, were founded in 1975 and has seen most of the Wales Women’s National Team pass through the club’s doors at one time or another, including NWSL superstar Jess Fishlock, Chelsea stalwart Sophie Ingle, and exciting young talent Carrie Jones who is currently on loan at WSL side Leicester City from Manchester United.

Photos: @Ian Lovell and @mmonk2001

Currently in Tier 4 in the English FA Women’s National League system, having spent the past few years in Tier 3, the club is feeling the effects of other teams in their league benefiting from investment and leaving them behind. Namely, Cardiff is missing out on shared resources that come from being part of the same club as a professional men’s team: medical team, media team, gym facilities, pitches etc, as women’s football garners more attention and investment across the country.

But Cardiff City is unique, and should not be left as a relic of a former time: a time when the team were playing, and even winning, against the likes of Brighton, Chelsea, Arsenal and Crystal Palace.

It should be noted that there are other clubs without a men’s side, who are making it work in the women’s game in England – most notably Durham and Coventry United. The biggest challenge is identifying a model upon which to run the club, in a way that sees sustained financial support to compete with the likes of Derby and Wolves, who are part of much bigger clubs.

The women’s game has seen plenty of competent teams drop down through the tiers as a result of having a ‘different’ business model not deemed competitive by the FA – as this article discussing the demotion of Yeovil Town by not one, but two tiers, attests to. You only have to think back to the glory days of the likes of Sunderland, Donny Belles and Notts County Ladies to see the impact of a system that places more emphasis on financial backing than on-pitch results and table standings.

As the most followed women’s club in Wales, and with the potential to draw some of the biggest names in English women’s football to Cardiff through the FA cup, club chairperson Michele Adams sees no reason why the club can’t draw and sustain large crowds to both home and away games. “Look at what we did in the past with nothing, imagine what we can do with something, with a bit of investment and publicity.”

Cardiff City LFC regularly play teams from the Welsh top tier in preseason friendlies – the likes of Cardiff City Women, Cardiff Met and Swansea often approach CCLFC for pre-season games in order to test themselves against the National League standard. And CCLFC always win comfortably. It is safe to say that they are the best women’s team in Wales, but probably also the best-kept secret!

The team travelled to a tier 3 side for pre-season this summer and came away with a 2-2 draw, but the opposition used the logo for Cardiff City Women (the bluebirds) in their pre-match graphics on social media. More awareness of the club is needed, as it has a rich history that is in danger of being erased and plays the highest standard of women’s football of any Welsh club.

The team beat Bristol City’s U23 team comfortably 6-2 during pre-season, showing sustained quality and experience over a speedy, skilful and energetic youth side from a professional club.

The English game and the state of women’s football in Wales are not comparable, but it is the FAW’s ambition to offer football to all girls of primary school age and to reach an International Tournament by 2025.

In the meantime, if you want to watch the best football in Wales, you can watch Cardiff City LFC! A handful of matches will be played on Thursday evenings at the Centre of Sporting Excellence in Ystrad Mynach, but the season will be kicked off on Sunday 21st August at 2 pm at Cwrt-yr-ala, CF5 5QT in Cardiff, against Portishead. Entry is £5 per adult and £1 for children. Make sure to get a hot dog, it’s not everywhere you can get served by Wales International legends!