THE owner of The New Saints, Mike Harris, says he has a dual dream of regular European group stage football and a 10,000 capacity stadium.

The Saints owner told BBC Wales that the club is looking for land in Oswestry to build a new stadium with "at least 10,000 seats" and hopes to fill it with fans watching regular European football.

Harris, often a colourful and controversial figure in Welsh football, was speaking to the BBC to mark 30 years since the creation of the Cymru Premier, which was established as the League of Wales in 1992.

And he told the corporation that his dream is the culmination of years of hard work.

"Getting to the group stage is very, very difficult in the Champions League," Harris said.

"But I believe getting into the group stages of one of the three (European) competitions is well within our grasp in the next two or three seasons."

TNS' hopes of continued European football this season took a hit on Thursday as the Welsh champions lost the first leg of their Europa Conference League tie with Víkingur Reykjavík in Iceland 2-0.

However TNS can still progress if they can overturn the deficit in the second leg at their Park Hall home on Tuesday. The facility broke new ground in the Welsh top flight at the first 3G pitch, which have now become standard in the league.

Harris, who became involved as a title sponsor when the former Llansantffraid club won the Welsh Cup in 1996, eventually merged the club with Oswestry, who also played in the Welsh system, to create the league powerhouse - and establish a new home across the border.

His ambition remains to become the first Welsh side to progress to the group stages of the main European competitions.

"Our ability to compete off the pitch is growing but if you also look at what we're doing within our academy, we're attracting the best young kids in the local area.

"We're hoping to find a new site in Oswestry to build a new ground with hopefully 10,000 seats.

"My business in America is going very, very well and I intend to invest heavily in The New Saints to achieve those goals."

TNS are on the only side currently in the league that are full-time – with Connah's Quay Nomads only just turning part-time and Haverfordwest also having ambitions to turn full-time – but Harris said he would like to see all 12 clubs become professional.

"I'd love to see the league full time," Harris told BBC Sport Wales.

"Change for nothing is not worth changing and I'm a big believer that any change from here has to be backed by financial plans from the FAW.



"I know the league has shrunk and in an ideal world you don't play everybody three or four times a season.

"If the talent is spread out too thin then you can't compete in Europe, because that's one source of cash - if it's too narrow the fans don't like it.

"But ultimately if the FAW could find say, a TV deal for £1m and a sponsor for £1.5m, you could insist at least eight teams were full time.

"Without full time there's no chance I would ever support any change to the league.

"Twelve seems to be a good league, not as good as it would be if it was 16 or 18, but at least there's enough money to bring good football."

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