HotTakes.Pro profiles European football clubs: The New Saints
Editor’s note: This is a series of posts profiling popular European football clubs. These posts are predominately geared towards an American audience that may not be as familiar with the sport. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know about any mistakes/misrepresentations. All statistics are as of publishing date.
Name: The New Saints F.C.
Nickname: The Saints
Founded: 2003 (merger of Llansantffraid F.C. est. 1959 & Oswetry Town F.C. est. 2000)
Grounds: Park Hall Capacity: 2,034 (1,034 seated)
Based in: Oswestry, Shropshire, England
Manager: Scott Ruscoe
League: Welsh Premier League
2016/2017 Finish: 1st place of 12; 28 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses
2016/2017 UEFA Champions League 2Q (0-3 aggregate loss to APOEL)
2017/2018 UEFA Champions League 2Q (1-7 aggregate loss to HNK Rijeka)
TNS was founded in 1959 in the small Welsh border of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain as Llansantffraid F.C. The Saints (as they were known) gained promotion to the League of Wales (now Welsh Premier League) during the 1992/1993 season. Llansantffraid F.C. won the 1996 Welsh Cup and qualified for continental play for the first time in club history. A promotion deal was signed with a local company Total Network Solutions, and the club became known as Total Network Solutions F.C., or TNS.
In 2003 TNS merged with Oswetstry Town F.C., a League of Wales side that played in nearby Oswestry, England. TNS moved across the border and began play at Park Hall. The club was renamed The New Saints F.C. in 2006 following the acquisition of Total Network Solutions by British Telecom.
TNS has won the Welsh Premier League 11 times total with seven championships in the past decade and a current run of six straight. They have qualified for European continental play on nineteen occasions. Overall, TNS has 7 wins, 4 draws, 19 losses in the UEFA Champions League and 2 wins, 1 draw, 15 losses in the UEFA Cup & UEFA Europa League.
Due to pressure from nations that questioned Wales fielding a national team in UEFA competitions, the Welsh Premier League was formed in 1992 to provide a true top-level league. Swansea City, Cardiff City, & Wrexham were the only Welsh members of the Football League at the time, and so the Welsh FA decided to allow them to remain in the English football pyramid. A bitter dispute arose between the Welsh FA & the Welsh non-Football League clubs that wished to remain: Bangor City, Barry Town, Caernarfon Town, Colwyn Bay, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, Newtown, & Rhyl. Most of this group of eight clubs eventually gave in and joined, but Newport County, Colwyn Bay, & Methyr Town remain in the English FA to this day.
The champion of the league gains entry to the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds. The second place team and the winner of the Welsh Cup gain access to the UEFA Europa League. 3rd through 7th place compete in a playoff for a third Europa League qualifying spot.