Home Spain stamps 14 clubs that play in the league from completely different countries – from Cardiff to Monaco

14 clubs that play in the league from completely different countries – from Cardiff to Monaco


Football teams playing in the pyramid of a country different from their own has been a growing phenomenon over the past few decades.

It’s been a hugely successful season for several of them, with FC Andorra promoted to Spain’s Segunda División. Els Tricolors are owned by Barcelona star Gerard Pique and have competed in the Spanish leagues since 1948.

Founded in 1942, they joined the Catalan Football Federation and thus the Spanish league system. Pique took over the club in 2018, giving them a Barcelona makeover and seeing them promoted to the second tier for the first time in their history this term.

Closer to home, Wrexham have failed to lift silverware themselves this year, losing the FA Trophy final to Bromley before being knocked out of the National League play-offs in a wild semi-final against Grimsby. Although based in North Wales, the Red Dragons first joined an English league in 1890, through The Combination.

After a two-year stint in Wales they returned to England, winning The Combination four times before being elected to join the Birmingham and District League in 1905. Since then they have remained in leagues on the other side of the border, be promoted to the second level.

Arguably the most successful Welsh club playing in the English leagues is Cardiff City, who won the FA Cup in 1923. They currently play in the Championship, having joined the English Football League South around 1910, before joining the Football League in 1920.

Who do you think should win the Ballon d’Or this year? Let us know in the “Comments” section…

Wrexham has been part of the English pyramid since the early 1900s

Swansea followed Cardiff’s lead in 1913, joining the Southern League, before becoming a founding member of the Football League Third Division in 1920. Swans now compete in the Championship and won the League Cup in 2013 .

While these teams are long established, Isle of Man FC opted to form a brand new club to join the North West Counties League in 2019 as part of a desire for players in the island to figure at a higher level. The island has its own league, with the Ravens kicking off at a different time to avoid clashes, the club also covering the costs of any visiting teams, winning promotion to the NWCL Premier Division through play-offs this season .

Guernsey FC were also born out of a desire to play in England, joining the Combined Counties Football League in 2011 after their formation the same year. Many of their places come from the Channel Islands, with the Green Lions currently playing in the central-south division of the Isthmian league.

After the New Zealand Knights collapsed in 2007, Wellington Phoenix was trained by businessman Terry Serepisos to take their place in the Australian League A. The Phoenix are still going strong today, reaching the Championship play-offs of League A this season.

Canada’s Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps, who play in MLS, also play in another country’s top division. Toronto became the first when they received an expansion team in 2007, before the Whitecaps followed two years later after long being part of the United States’ lower divisions.

Monaco is the most famous example of a team appearing in another country’s top flight. They were formed as part of a unification of many local clubs based in France and the principality in 1919, being invited to join the French professional leagues in 1933 by the French Football Federation.

Monaco have won the French Ligue 1 eight times
Monaco have won the French Ligue 1 eight times

Relegated the following year, they did not regain their professional status until 1948. Since then, the Monegasques have won the Ligue 1 eight times and the Coupe de France five times, while still playing in the Principality.

Berwick Rangers, meanwhile, made frequent attempts to return to English football early in their history. They had joined the Scottish Football Association in 1905 and have since been part of divisions north of the border which is 2.5 miles away, currently turning to the Lowland League.

Just like Berwick, ASDV San Marino is located right on its country’s border with Italy. Titani was founded in 1960 specifically to compete in the Italian leagues and are the only team from San Marino allowed to do so, currently in Serie D.

Unlike the other clubs on this list, FC Vaduz is classified as a “guest club” by the Swiss Football Leagues. They are based in Liechtenstein but play in Switzerland as their home country does not organize a league.

They first played in Austria, but moved to Switzerland in 1933, paying a license fee of £150,000 a year to do so. They play in Liechtenstein’s domestic cup competition, rather than Switzerland’s, and represent their home country in UEFA tournaments, rather than in their adopted league.

Union Esportiva de Bossost can claim the most unusual reason for joining another country’s league, having been part of the French system since its formation in the 1920s. Based in the Catalan town of Bossost, they play across the border because in their early years they could not cross the Val d’Aran to Spain due to high levels of winter snow.