Jumat, 03 September 2010

Wales: Money or Home Advantage?

The Football Association of Wales will soon have to take a difficult call on where to play their 2012 European Championship Group G qualifier home tie against neighbours England in March 2011. Currently the plan is to organise the tie at the Millennium Stadium, while coach John Toshack wants it to be shifted to new, but much smaller Cardiff City Stadium.

Why is the coach asking for the shift? The 74,000 seater Millennium Stadium is the national stadium of Wales, but often in qualifying and other friendly matches the ground is not full, often not even half full. The new 26,828 seater Cardiff City Stadium had last year successful hosted a friendly against Scotland, which the players and coaching staff regard now as their new home. And as a result next weeks home qualifier against Bulgaria will be played at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Also Wales' track record at the Millennium Stadium isn't the best. Over the last decade they have played 26 qualifying matches and only won eight of them, mostly against minnows of European football. But the match against England would most likely be a sell-out game and such a shift to the smaller venue would cost the Welsh FA most likely more then a Million Pounds. And the FA in Wales isn't one of the richest in Europe, so they need all possible income especially from such big games.

The question is then, do you want the money or use the home advantage? For John Toshack it is clear, he as the coach wants the home advantage at a small venue with strong vocal home support which could intimidate the English players. Add in an early goal for Wales to the flavour then you have game on. But then on the other side the Welsh FA has to look at their finances and does a Welsh win really give them a chance to qualify for the 2012 European Championships? A difficult one to answer...

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