The New Saints FC (TNS) is a British football club representing Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain in Powys, Wales and Oswestry in Shropshire, England (the two places are only 8 miles/13 km apart). They play in the League of Wales. From 1997 to 2006, the club was known as Total Network Solutions F.C.
TNS currently play at Park Hall in Oswestry, which currently accommodates 250 seated spectators. There are plans to upgrade the ground to 3,000 capacity in 2008. Due to the takeover of the club's main sponsor, Total Network Solutions, by British Telecom, the club offered up the chance to buy the name sponsorship on eBay, but the reserve was not met.
The 2007/2008 shirt sponsor is Textboards, a company who specialise in SMS and Bluetooth Technology for Estate Agents. Their first game as shirt sponsor was TNS's home win against FK Venstpils in the UEFA Champions League, on Tuesday 17th July 2007.
The club's first choice strip is green and white hooped shirts, white shorts and socks. The second choice strip is blue shirts, shorts, and socks. The third choice strip is orange shirts, shorts and socks.
The club was formed by Joe Smith as Llansantffraid FC to represent the tiny border village of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain (population: 1,000) in 1959.
They first tasted competitive football in the Montgomeryshire Amateur Football League (then the fourth level of the Welsh football league system), winning the championship seven times. At the end of the 1989/90 season they were elected to the Central Wales League (now the Mid-Wales League) but their stay was brief, winning promotion to the Cymru Alliance as runners-up on their first attempt. Llansantffraid’s meteoric rise continued and in 1992/93 they gained promotion to the League of Wales as champions and won the Welsh Intermediate Cup (formerly the Welsh Amateur Cup).
Total Network Solutions
In 1996 Llansantffraid won the Welsh Cup and qualified for the first time for the European Cup Winners' Cup. At this time a local computer company, Total Network Solutions of Oswestry, arranged a £250,000 sponsorship deal which involved incorporating the company name into the club name. As Total Network Solutions Llansantffraid F.C. (no doubt to the consternation of commentators) they met the Polish cup winners Ruch Chorzow and earned a 1-1 draw at home before losing 0-5 in Poland. Since then they have qualified for European competition several times (though they are yet to win a tie). The club's European home games are generally played at either Newtown's or Wrexham's stadium as their own ground is far below UEFA's standards (though for their 2003 meeting with Manchester City, they played their home game at the 72,000-seat Millennium Stadium in Cardiff).
In 1997 the club's name was changed to Total Network Solutions FC, being the first instance in the United Kingdom of a football club renaming itself after its sponsor's name only. Following the financial meltdown of Barry Town in the summer of 2003, TNS became the only League of Wales club which had a full-time playing staff. In the summer of 2005 however Llanelli AFC also announced plans to go full-time.
Merger with Oswestry Town
In the summer of 2003 a merger with their financially-weak neighbours, Oswestry Town FC (who, despite being from England, also played in Wales), was approved by Oswestry's shareholders, the Football Association of Wales and was eventually ratified on 14 August 2003 by UEFA (who initially objected to two clubs from different governing bodies merging).
The 2003-2004 season was trophyless for TNS, as they were runners-up in the League of Wales to Rhyl and were losing finalists in the Welsh Cup, also to Rhyl. The next season, 2004-05, proved much more successful, as TNS won a league-cup double.
During the 2004-05 close season, after newly crowned Champions League winners Liverpool were initially denied a place in the next season's competition, TNS offered to play a two-legged tie against the Reds for TNS's place in the first qualifying round. After UEFA reached a compromise by which Liverpool were placed in the first qualifying round of the competition, TNS and Liverpool ended up drawn against one another anyway. The first leg was at Anfield, when Liverpool won 3-0 by a Steven Gerrard hat-trick, while in the second leg played at Wrexham, Gerrard scored two more after coming on as a substitute, to add to one by Djibril Cissé for another 3-0 TNS defeat. Although defeated the team drew praise from many quarters most notably the young Northern Irish goalkeeper Gerard Doherty, of whom Rafael Benítez said, "The goalkeeper saved a lot of goals and for me he was the best player in the two games".
The New Saints FC
In early 2006 the club's sponsor, Total Network Solutions, was taken over by British Telecom, as a result of which the sponsorship arrangement lapsed at the end of the 2005-06 season and it became necessary to find a new name for the club. After a trawl for naming ideas, including an attempt to sell the naming rights on eBay, the name "The New Saints" was agreed upon as appropriate to the clubs' history — Llansantffraid was always known as "The Saints", while Oswestry had strong connections with Saint Oswald, while handily retaining the initials "TNS". A new club badge was also developed at the same time, featuring a dragon to represent Llansantffraid and a lion representing Oswestry.
"Dancing in the Streets"
On the Sky Sports football show Soccer Saturday, TNS's name is gently mocked by the programme's main presenter, Jeff Stelling. At the end of the day's classified check (in which the League of Wales is always the last set of results given, and in which TNS are often alphabetically last, though not since the 2005-06 season), if TNS have played and won at home, Stelling invariably uses his now famous catchphrase "They'll be dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions tonight!", since updated to "dancing in the streets of The New Saints". Stelling's joke was also occasionally aimed at fellow Welsh side, Airbus UK in 2005-06. Stelling's joke is, of course, derived from the accidental 'dancing in the streets of Raith', said by Sam Leitch in the 1960s of the Kirkcaldy-based Raith Rovers.