The English County League was finally declared official today after nearly three years of planning. The idea was suggested back in 2007, when it was suggested that the teams of England were losing geographical allegiances. The idea was seized upon in 2009 by the Welsh FA, who were tired of running a sub-par league that was compared to the likes of England's semi-professional leagues. After a year of wrangling with UEFA, the Welsh FA were allowed to run the County Leagues, but the teams had to agree to not entering any other competitions besides those designed for them, and, later on, the UEFA contests. This was met by dismay among TNS and the Welsh 'elite', but they were promised that their league would still run, ableit without the chance to get thrashed 6-0 by the champions of Lithuania or Belarus.
The Association of British Counties were asked to create a roster of teams, and selected the 39 traditional counties of England, in addition to a Welsh side, would form two 20 team divisions, with promotion and relegation between them but no relegation out of the second division. 2 teams were to be relegated a year automatically, with the team finishing 18th in the upper division facing a playoff with the team in 3rd in the lower division.
The two divisions were called the English County First and Second Division - the league executives didn't see the point of a Premier Division. Investment quickly came from many sources, including the league's first sponsor, Carlsberg.
Three cups were established. The main cup was the County Cup, a cup that would start with 8 groups of five teams. Two would get through from each group and play two legged ties until the final, which would be held at the Millennium Stadium. The reason this cup was given this format is because the Welsh FA felt that a team should have to work hard for the Europa League place a victory in the cup would bring.
The second cup was the Challenge Cup, a straight knockout cup, though a replay would be held in event of a draw. This cup demanded 5 under-21s be picked for the first XI, with a total of 10 being required in the 16man matchday squad.
The final cup, which wouldn't make an appearence until the second season, was the Super Cup. This cup was simply a match between the Division One champions and the Cup winners, with the Division One runners up filling in in the case of a double.
All competitions had recieved permission from the EU to restrict the amount of foreigners, so long as it was possible for at least nine foreigners to get the chance to take part in the match day. As a result, the maximum in the starting XI was 6 foreigners, with up to 9 permitted in the match day squad.
With everything set, the draw for the league was held. Fourty teams were placed into the hat, with the first 20 out being assigned to Division One. These teams were, in order of drawing:
Once this draw was made, there was no time for the lucky teams to celebrate as the balls were placed back into the machine, and mixed once again, this time to draw the groups for the County Cup. They were as follows: