The ground where Liverpool play all of their home reserve games looks set to be the location for Liverpool’s first competitive away fixture of the new season. Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground seems the most likely location for the second leg game the Champions League first round qualifier against Total Network Solutions.
The draw for the tie saw Liverpool given a home first leg which will be played on July 12th or 13th. The second leg a week later needs to be switched from the TNS ground because they say it isn’t up to UEFA standards.
Wrexham’s secretary Geraint Parry said that Wrexham and TNS signed agreements to allow the Welsh champions to play at the home of Wrexham. He said: "The contracts between ourselves and TNS were signed and sent off to UEFA last month, before Liverpool were allowed back into the competition. The local police gave us the go-ahead and the safety certificate has been issued by the local council. We’ve got 10,500 seats and 5,000 terrace spaces and are confident the Racecourse Ground would prove a suitable venue."
In fact under UEFA rules the 5,000 standing spaces could not be used, meaning the real capacity would be 10,500 for the game. Mr Parry (not to confused with Liverpool’s Chief Executive Rick Parry) said that TNS may now feel that this won’t be enough: "Of course, TNS may now want to switch it to the Millennium Stadium with Liverpool being their opposition, as they did when they played Manchester City. I know that proved lucrative for TNS, but until we hear anything different from them, the game will be played at the Racecourse."
Richard Hann, a TNS director said that there is more chance of the game being played in the North Wales ground: "It’s more likely to be the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham. We only have a capacity of 2,000 so we’re looking at Wrexham I think."
Hannn says that he expects a higher-than-average attendance for the game: "Our home games have averaged just under 200 so we’re expecting a few more there. We’re very pleased. It a good local tie and with good local interest."
Speaking to Sky Sports news, Hann acknowledge the difficulty of the game, but insisted that the team were more than ready for Liverpool: "I’d be crazy to say there isn’t a huge gulf between the sides. I think we’ll be prepared, absolutely up for it. I don’t think we’ll disgrace ourselves."
The general manager of TNS, Ian Williams, was in Nyon for the draw and was heard cheering when his club were drawn against the Reds. He said: "You can’t get draws better than that one. We did give a loud cheer when our name came out of the hat."
He was considering moving the game to the Millennium Stadium at that stage, saying: "I think we’ve got to look at the option of playing the game in Cardiff. We’ll consider that at the appropriate time." He also feels that his side have a chance of causing what would be one of the major upsets in European games for some time by getting a victory over the two legs: "There’s always a chance. That’s the nature of the game – two legs, 180 minutes. You never know."
Liverpool’s Rick Parry was pleased with the draw for this match and also the second round should they progress – from a travelling point of view mostly. Liverpool’s pre-season plans had to be ripped-up when the decision to put them into the competition from the beginning was made. The first-round will see them at least stay in Britain, and the second-round would be in either Lithuania or the Faroe Isles. Parry said: "We really didn’t want to be travelling to the far reaches of Europe
and the borders of Asia, so logistically it is fine. We have ended up
quite lucky with this one."
Inevitably Parry was asked about the club captain Steven Gerrard’s contract talks. Reports in some parts of the press have claimed that talks have been delayed by Liverpool but Parry refuted this: "We want Steven to stay, there is no cause for concern on our part. There is no delay. We have always said we hope Steven will be with us. We want to win trophies, Steven wants to win trophies and I think captaining us to the European Cup was a pretty good step in the right direction and nothing has changed since then."
In terms of signing new players Liverpool are not going to be rushed just because of Champions League deadlines. Parry said: "We are quite happy and we will be making announcements in good time for the season. There is no immediate pressure, the announcements will be made when we’re good and ready."
According to reports coming from Holland, Rick Parry was recently enjoying a meal in Holland with one of those potential signings. Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt of Feyenoord has stated publically that he’d like to play for Liverpool and the reports claim that the clubs are in talks. Liverpool are said to be looking to make a part-exchange deal for the player who is rated at £10million by his current club. Kuyt scored 29 goals last season. The attempted purchase of Kuyt is said to be in addition to the Reds’ interest in Southampton’s Peter Crouch.