Spain clash may see Wales back at Prin­ci­pal­ity

South Wales Echo - - FOOTBALL -

GARETH BALE and his Wales team­mates could be head­ing back to the Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium for the first time in seven years for a glam­our friendly against Spain.

Talks have be­gun be­tween the FA of Wales and the Welsh Rugby Union about stag­ing the Oc­to­ber 11 clash with the for­mer World Cup and dou­ble Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship win­ners at the 74,000-seater venue.

The FA of Wales say the game will take place in Cardiff, but point out in a press re­lease “venue details will be re­leased in due course.”

That means they are locked in dis­cus­sions with the WRU over the fi­nances and prac­ti­cal­ity of switch­ing the fix­ture from their reg­u­lar Cardiff City Sta­dium home.

Highly-placed sources have con­firmed those talks are on­go­ing.

New man­ager Ryan Giggs and his FAW bosses know the de­mand to see Wales take on global su­per­stars such as Andres Ini­esta, Ser­gio Ramos, David de Gea and Ger­ard Pique would be so great that ticket sales are likely to out­strip the 33,000 avail­able at the Blue­birds’ ground.

FAW boss Jonathan Ford is keen to test the water and take a Wales match back to the for­mer Mil­len­nium Sta­dium, fol­low­ing the rip-roar­ing suc­cess of the Real Madrid ver­sus Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal last sum­mer.

Ramos, Isco, Dani Car­va­jal and Gareth Bale, of course, each fea­tured in that game as the eyes of the world fo­cused upon Cardiff and will play again in Wales ver­sus Spain.

There is no sug­ges­tion at this stage mov­ing to the Prin­ci­pal­ity, if it hap­pens, would be any­thing other than a one-off. How­ever, if the green light is given and the idea proves a hit, Wales may also con­sider com­pet­i­tive qual­i­fiers against ma­jor na­tions at the venue for the Euro 2020 and World Cup 2022 cam­paigns.

Some Welsh fans will be against the idea, but Ford says the mat­ter will be for Giggs to de­cide.

“We will ul­ti­mately make the right de­ci­sion for foot­ball. We will al­ways sup­port our man­ager,” Ford is on record as say­ing.

Wales have not played at the home of rugby since los­ing 2-0 there to Fabio Capello’s Eng­land back in March 2011.

The de­ci­sion to quit the sta­dium and move a mile down the road came as a re­sult of fall­ing gates and some play­ers com­plain­ing about the state of the pitch.

How­ever, Wales’ more re­cent suc­cess – no­tably at Euro 2016 – has led to a fresh up­surge in sup­port and many fans un­able to get their hands on tick­ets for some matches.

As a player Giggs has seen the best, and the worst, of the venue.

He ap­peared in front of 74,00 sell­out crowds, un­prece­dented fig­ures for Wales games, but was also present for much lesser at­ten­dances when the lack of at­mos­phere played into the hands of the op­po­si­tion.

The Oc­to­ber 11 Wales v Spain date does not clash with au­tumn rugby fix­tures War­ren Gat­land’s Welsh side have inked in for Novem­ber.

Wales have also an­nounced an away friendly against Al­ba­nia on Novem­ber 20.

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