Spain clash may see Wales back at Principality
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.