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Page last updated at 06:11 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 07:11 UK

Wales qualifier venue may change

The Millennium Stadium
The Millennium Stadium has suffered disappointing crowds in recent years

By Peter Shuttleworth

The Football Association of Wales could take the nations' qualifying internationals to a number of venues, BBC Sport understands.

Since 2000 the Millennium Stadium has staged World Cup and European games.

The FAW's International Committee will discuss the proposal on 15 September to be ratified at their next full council.

The Millennium Stadium will host big games but qualifiers will also be at the Cardiff City Stadium, the Liberty Stadium and Llanelli's Parc y Scarlets.

Wales once enjoyed being the best supported nation in Europe when Mark Hughes' men were on the brink of qualifying for the 2004 European Championships.

Cardiff City Stadium
The new Cardiff City Stadium has a capacity of 26,500 people

The Welsh averaged crowds of 73,000 during the Euro 2004 qualifiers, a campaign that ended in play-off heartbreak to Russia in front of 73,062 fans at the Millennium Stadium.

But the Welsh national team have been in transition since the retirements of star players such as Gary Speed, Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage, Mark Delaney, John Hartson, Andy Melville and Mark Pembridge.

Welsh fans have endured indifferent performances since John Toshack replaced Hughes as Wales' youngsters tried to find their feet on the world stage.

Wales have enjoyed just one crowd of over 30,000 fans in their last 10 qualifiers at the Millennium Stadium when 30,714 fans watched Giggs play his final Welsh international in a goalless draw against the Czech Republic in June 2007.

The Liberty Stadium
The Liberty Stadium has already staged Welsh international friendlies

Captain Craig Bellamy bemoaned the lack of Millennium Stadium atmosphere after 22,604 watched Wales' 2-0 defeat to Finland in April.

"We aren't generating anything," Bellamy said.

"What a nice place it is to come and play at the moment. Opposition teams must be very comfortable here.

"You come to a nice city, a very good stadium. No pressure. No atmosphere."

So moving some qualifiers away from the Millennium Stadium is to be on the agenda for the FAW's next International Committee meeting.

The Welsh FA are to end their Millennium Stadium qualifying season ticket initiative at the end of this campaign as the association considers taking Wales' qualifiers on tour.

Wales will continue to play big box office opposition at the 74,000-capacity Millennium Stadium - Europe's 13th biggest sporting arena - if the Welsh are drawn against nations such as Germany, Italy and England.

But the FAW hope the smaller grounds will create a more intense atmosphere to spur on Toshack's Wales when they face less attractive opposition.

606: DEBATE

Wales will then play the second tier European nations at the recently-opened £50m Cardiff City Stadium, which has a capacity of 26,500, while Swansea's 20,500-capacity Liberty Stadium will also be considered to host qualifiers.

Llanelli's 15,000-capacity Parc y Scarlets is the only other ground in Wales that meets Uefa's qualifying stadium criteria for competitive games but Wrexham's Racecourse ground will be considered once it is redeveloped to meet Uefa standards.

So Wales' final home 2010 World Cup qualifier against Russia on Wednesday, 9 September is to be their last guaranteed qualifier at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales used to play qualifiers at the old Ninian Park, the old Vetch Field and at the Racecourse before the FAW decided to make the most of the potential capacity of the Millennium Stadium in 2000.

The Welsh FA do not have to tell Uefa where they are to host their qualifying matches until 60 days before each fixture.

The Uefa 2012 European Championships qualifying draw will take place in Warsaw on 7 February.



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see also
Bellamy envious of Irish success
01 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Wales 0-2 Germany
01 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Wales 0-2 Finland
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Wales 2-0 Liechtenstein
11 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Wales 1-0 Azerbaijan
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Wales 2-2 Republic of Ireland
17 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Wales 0-2 Germany
08 Sep 07 |  Welsh
Wales 0-0 Czech Republic
02 Jun 07 |  Internationals
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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