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The New Saints: 2023/24 Season Preview

The more things change, the more they stay the same for The New Saints.

Craig Harrison secured a League and Cup double upon his return to Park Hall last season, but evolution and progress is undoubtedly the key aim for the top brass at the club.

Big-name arrivals, including those of versatile attacker Rory Holden from Port Vale and midfielder Dan Williams from Swansea City, coupled with the off-the-pitch investment into the stadium and surrounding areas, prove the Saints aren’t resting on their laurels.

“When I came back to the club, I had a conversation with (owner) Mike Harris,” says manager Harrison.

“In the next three to five years, we’re trying to get into the group stages of European football.

“That’s the aim. There’s no hiding from me, Mike, the players or the staff.

“I think the club is at that point now with investment, not only financially, but with time and effort and with facilities.”

On the pitch, while the addition of Holden is an exciting one, there is no doubting Declan McManus is the man to be feared in the Cymru Premier once again.

The Scot has topped the division’s scoring charts in each of the two campaigns since completing a £60,000 move to the Welsh pyramid from Dunfermline Athletic in the summer of 2021, while the frontman has shown real promise on the European stage, too.

To that end, TNS once again go into the domestic league campaign as firm favourites to clinch the Cymru Premier title and it’s hard to make a strong case against Harrison’s side lifting the trophy for the 12th time since 2010 next year.

DragonBet make The New Saints Evens to win the title

Having twice lost out on top spot – albeit the first of which was in controversial fashion due to the Covid pandemic – to Connah’s Quay prior to Harrison’s return, the Saints were close to their all-conquering best last term and look intent on building on that having successfully defended the League won by Anthony Limbrick in 2021-22.

Well over 100 goals scored, just 17 conceded and only one defeat in 32 League outings last season, TNS mean business. And, crucially, so does chairman Harris.

Park Hall – a venue integral to the local community and one used by clubs across Wales for domestic and European competitions – is being expanded to further grow the game in the region.

Speaking earlier this year, chief operating officer Ian Williams said: “This new development is part of our continued growth of providing football for the various teams within the club but also the wider community as well.”

DragonBet make Connah’s Quay Nomads 22/1 to win the title

No-one at the club will deny finances have played a significant role in the Saints’ domination of the domestic game in Wales for well over a decade, but the current target for more growth is aimed at further improving the game across the nation, in addition to bolstering TNS’s own ambitions of reaching the promised land of European group stage football.

And so, to the upcoming season.

Connah’s Quay will strive to bridge the gap to the Saints while the likes of Penybont and Haverfordwest County will be hoping there are no hangovers from their European campaigns.

DragonBet make Penybont 40/1 to win the title

However, the sheer strength-in-depth the Saints possess on the field, combined with the unwavering desire of Harrison and Co. to go beyond domestic supremacy, means there’s unlikely to be a surprise name at the summit of the Cymru Premier standings in around 10 months or so.

DragonBet make Barry Town United 100/1 to win the title

The club’s ethos is aptly typified by star striker McManus who says: “I’ve done a lot better than I probably ever expected, but the challenge for me personally is to do better again.”

The same applies from top to bottom at Park Hall.

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