Thoughts on Sport - It's all about location, location, location for TNS

Reporter:

Gavin Grosvenor

IT was with mixed feelings that I heard of the latest relocation plan mooted by The New Saints.

Quitting Oswestry just two years after quitting Llansanffraid does not reflect well on the club but then when you consider the lack of Welsh FA support over the years you can understand and even sympathise with clubs now desperately trying to attain a domestic license.

People from Oswestry simply have not taken to the merged club playing on their doorstep while the formation of a new 'strictly independent' club down the road at Llansanffraid has meant the Llansanffraid part of the club's identity is surely now just token.

I do not like franchising within sport and with a second relocation in two years that is exactly what TNS will be doing.

But let's look at this again. What are TNS? It has long ceased to be a club representing Llansanffraid. Clearly it has never been a club for Oswestrians or there would at least have been a significant improvement in attendances at Park Hall.

There are many reasons people do not support TNS and some are simply down to envy of the club's success but the main reason is the club's failure to adopt a proper identity.

Let's face it. Who supports a club called The New Saints of Oswestry Town and Llansanffraid? Particulary when the 'The New Saints' part was merely inserted to maintain its TNS moniker.

When you consider that the club is now considering moving away from Oswestry after just two years - which is hardly enough time to establish roots and community links to any town - perhaps some Oswestrians reluctance to support TNS will be justified

It is a  great pity because despite their detractors TNS do play football the way it was intended to be played and although Mike Harris may not be everyone's cup of tea he is a fine example of what a 'can do' attitude can do in both business and sport.

I also think that a move to Chester would give Mike Harris what he has always craved. A UEFA compliant ground surrounded by large towns and cities and more importantly situated in Wales. That's right - while the city of Chester just falls on the wrong side of the border, the Deva Stadium itself is in Wales. Not just some of the pitch but every blade is Welsh grass.

As long as TNS became primary leaseholders the people of Chester and surrounding area would have access to top level Welsh games as well as Unibond North games with the existing club.

Should it be the case that Chester City go to the wall as many expect next week, I'd like to think that the people of Chester would be happy to support any club playing out of the Deva Stadium - even if it is the franchised TNS and even if it is in the Welsh system.

This could be fate. TNS could represent white knights riding to the rescue and ensuring football continued in the famous border town. Their reward would be access to a share of over 77,000 potential fans and a superb ground within the Welsh border.

I just hope that Mike Harris and the rest of the TNS marketing team finally accept supporters will not buy into anything without the name of their town or area being recognised and respected.

To that effect I suggest Caerlleon Cymraeg Saints - Chester Welsh Saints - or even Caerlleon Ffinia Saint which means Chester Border Saints.

See full story in the Leader

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