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Last Updated: Friday, 31 August 2007, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
New Saints make move over border
TNS' Park Hall ground (picture: TNS)
The Saints go marching on - to their new ground in Shropshire
Welsh Premier football champions The New Saints (TNS) are gearing up to play the first match at their new ground, over the border in England.

The Powys side from Llansantffraid are moving eight miles to Oswestry in Shropshire.

TNS will play Caersws on Saturday after Welsh football officials gave the switch the thumbs up on Thursday.

The club is also thought to be the first in the top tier of Welsh soccer to play on an artificial surface.

TNS' move brings down the curtain on 14 years of Welsh Premier football at Llansantffraid's Treflan ground.

We will still have strong connections with the village
TNS managing director Mike Harris

Plans for the switch were announced two years ago, and earlier this month the Welsh Premier board gave the new stadium called Park Hall, a former World War II army camp, approval following an inspection.

On Thursday, officials from the Football Association of Wales rubber-stamped the move in principle, in time for Saturday's match against Caersws.

The club's all-seater stadium has a temporary capacity of 250, with hopes to increase it to 3,000 by the end of next season.

The new TNS pitch
The new artificial surface at The New Saints ground

Saints managing director Mike Harris said: "Although we are leaving Llansantffraid we will still have strong connections with the village.

"We have not ruled out one of our teams playing there in the future, but at the moment we are focussed on our new ground.

"It would have been difficult for us to continue to bring a council-owned recreation pitch up to Uefa standards and it just made sense to expand and that's why TNS merged with Oswestry Town in 2003."

Mr Harris added that the Saints were "committed" to the pyramid football system in Wales and the Welsh Premier League.

As for the new "Ligaturf" artificial pitch, he said ex-professionals who had played on it pre-season were impressed.

Mr Harris added that the surface was the "way forward" and was also used by the Swiss national team and Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg.

Meanwhile, a new 3.5m leisure development, known as The Venue, has been built on land owned by Mr Harris adjacent to the new pitch.




SEE ALSO
Village team rivals soccer champs
13 Mar 07 |  Mid Wales
TNS redevelop old Park Hall home
13 Jun 06 |  League of Wales
BT to 'expand' TNS after buy-out
31 Oct 05 |  Mid Wales
Saints go marching across border
26 Sep 05 |  Mid Wales

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