‘I am very much looking forward to the new season because there have been a lot of changes over the summer, as well as with Prestatyn Town and Barry Town United coming back into the league, and also I think it will be interesting at the top of the table too.
‘The New Saints, Craig Harrison has left – how will Scott Ruscoe and Steve Evans get on in replacing him? Will they take time to settle into the role – which is only natural – and if so then can Connah’s Quay, Bala and Bangor and so on take advantage of the situation and try to close the gap at the top?
‘I think it will be even more competitive than last year, with a few teams capable of closing the gap to The New Saints at the top of the table because of the changes over the summer, and I think it is impossible to predict which two teams will drop out of the league come the end of the season, I think it will be very close and very competitive across the league, so I’m very excited indeed.’
With some of The JD Welsh Premier League’s biggest successes from last term – Jason Oswell, Henry Jones and Craig Harrison, Tony Pennock to name but a few – catching the eye and securing big moves elsewhere in the world of football, you need no more evidence than that to prove the credentials of Wales’ Premier division as somewhat of a talent hotbed.
New, exciting players and managers are joining The JDWPL ranks every season, and Roberts – who has great affinity for and history within Welsh domestic football – stated that the evidence of this league’s growing popularity, success and influence is obvious.
‘There are young players nowadays getting their opportunities in this league and then making a step to professional clubs, we saw a number of players doing that in the last few years and we’ve seen coaches and managers doing the same, going into work at clubs like Hull City and Middleborough too, so it shows the talent that there is in this league.
‘Football is really becoming aware of this league now, agents and so on are coming to The JD Welsh Premier League – having seen that the Welsh National team is doing well – and seen that there is real talent in this league, and Wales is well and truly on the map once again, which is something to be very proud of.
‘We need to keep building on what has been done already, the facilities are much better without a doubt, the coaching standards have improved without a doubt, and there is real talent coming into the league from outside Wales – either through the clubs’ own academies, or talented young players looking for a second chance in this league, so we need to keep developing on those things, but everything is on the right track.’
To continue that investment that Wales’ Assistant Manager spoke of, Wales’ Premier division needs sponsorship and backing, and today League Secretary Gwyn Derfel announced a superb three-year sponsorship agreement with JD, a move which Roberts praised and spoke about its benefits.
‘We can’t forget about the business side of things, having JD sponsoring the league is a big deal and we can’t forget about the financial side of matters, which is so important to the clubs of this league and the league itself.
‘We need that investment to continue the positive developments we’ve seen over the last few years, so therefore the marketing side of things is very important and that then of course is a big help to the league and every club within it as they continue to develop further.’
After talking to a host of different media outlets and taking many pictures with players and fans alike, Roberts had clearly enjoyed the experience of launching the new league season, but also he noted how exciting he feels the future will be for The JD Welsh Premier League.
‘I think it will be exceptionally close, I know the managers and coaches within the league very well from working on their coach education, and I take great pleasure from doing that, but I know how competitive they are and how keen they are to increase their own standards and their clubs’ standards, so I know every single one of them will be looking towards getting as close to the top of the table as possible.
‘When we have competitive coaches and teams, then it makes for a very exciting time to come in the next few years.’