Swansea and Cardiff Stadia to Step Up?
It’s international weekend of course and the news that Wales are considering axing the Millennium Stadium for home matches has provided a major debating point in advance of the fixtures. This is bright news for two of our clubs, the resurgent Cities of Swansea and Cardiff. After this campaign’s encounters with Liechtenstein and Russia are concluded, the likes of Lewin Nyatanga and David Cotterill will be turning out at the Liberty and imaginatively titled Cardiff City stadia hereon in, as well as Llanelli rugby club’s Parc y Scarlets.
It will be refreshing to see grounds packed to the rafters for the 2012 European Championship qualifiers, although caveats must be raised. Firstly, the promise of tight, spine chilling atmospheres might be overstated: take the Liberty for instance. It’s packed full of all the corporate hospitality nonsense one would expect of a noughties-built ground and the usual suspects Frankie & Benny’s and Pizza Hut dot the complex; hell, there’s even a Starbuck’s. I’m not sure street fighters like Franck Ribery and Gennaro Gattuso will be “intimidated” should they be forced to pay a visit.
And what of the Principality’s (can Welsh readers confirm my suspicion that this patronising term beloved by the press should not be used?) traditional football heartland: North Wales? Wrexham’s legendary Racecourse Ground has played host to some thrilling victories – who can forget the 3-0 win over Spain in 1985 and Mark Hughes’ contortions? Unedifying wrangles over ownership of this, the oldest international soccer stadium in the world, have been a blight in recent times but it would be great to see Neal Eardley and Joe Ledley showcase their talents north of the Severn in the new era.