WALES'S three Football League clubs are hopeful that the implementation of the transfer window system will not leave them at a major disadvantage with their rivals.
Nationwide League sides hope to gain a two-year exemption from the system - implemented in the Premiership and leagues around Europe from midnight tomorrow - though Fifa said yesterday a decision was unlikely to be reached before next week.
Should the Football League win dispensation from the windows - which re-open on January 1, 2003, for a month - it was feared Cardiff City, Swansea City and Wrexham would still be restricted from buying or selling to clubs outside Wales.
Because the exemption would only apply to domestic transfers, the Welsh sides - who must receive international clearance each time they sign players from England, Northern Ireland or Scotland - would be blocked from recruiting from outside the country for most of the season.
This would also apply to the three non-league sides playing in the English pyramid - Dr Martens League clubs Newport County and Merthyr Tydfil and Unibond League outfit Colwyn Bay.
However, the Football Association of Wales said last night it was confident that this obstacle would be removed before tomorrow's transfer deadline.
"We've said that we are willing to issue clearances for our clubs to buy and sell players from across the border on the basis the Football League operates an internal system of which Cardiff, Wrexham and Swansea are a part," said registrations secretary Mark Evans.
"The ball is now in the Football Association's court to do likewise and we hope to hear from them before the transfer window closes.
"Clearly, Welsh clubs playing in the English pyramid would be at a major disadvantage if they were not on a level playing field with their rivals across the border."
The league, concerned at the harm the new system could do to their clubs, have sent Fifa new proposals which would allow a limited quota of transfers between teams in Divisions One, Two and Three in periods out-side the two transfer windows.
Fifa said they would make a decision next week but added that if any dispensation was given, it would be for a limited period only.
League spokesman John Nagle said, "The league have the support of the FA and Premier League to continue with the existing "open" system until a response has been received from Fifa.
"Therefore clubs will be able to continue signing and registering new players, including loan players from Premier League clubs."