John Toshack will wave goodbye to the Millennium Stadium next week with few regrets as Wales plan their future away from the national venue. Wednesday's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier with Russia is their last home game in Group 4, and the Cardiff ground is unlikely to be used again by Wales - unless they are facing a major world power - for maybe as much as two years.
Small attendances lost in the cavernous Millennium Stadium have long been a problem for the Wales coach and his players. Moving games during this qualifying campaign has been impossible because of the Football Association of Wales' policy of selling 'season tickets' for all the home preliminaries.
But that scheme will now be abandoned and, at an FAW council meeting later this month, plans to move matches to smaller grounds will be given the go-ahead. Cardiff City's new 27,000 capacity ground, Swansea's Liberty Stadium and Llanelli's Parc y Scarlets will be the venues for most of Wales's matches in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2012.
"The Millennium Stadium has been a big talking point, but when this qualifying competition is out of the way the powers that be will be able to sit down and look at alternatives," said Toshack. "They know mine and the players' feelings. We have not been able to do anything in the current campaign but next time around will be different.
Our performances have been disappointing at the Millennium, the gates have slowly dropped so it could be time to look at alternatives.
"Our performances have been disappointing at the Millennium, the gates have slowly dropped so it could be time to look at alternatives. We have a brand new Cardiff City ground to use, with the sort of capacity that we can fill and create a better atmosphere.
"We have to get this group over and then people can get their heads together and find a better way for us. But we are not saying that the Millennium Stadium is the reason we have not qualified. But it is so big, and when half full it sometimes motivates the opposition more than us."
With Russia expected to win at home to Liechtenstein tomorrow, qualification could mathematically be all but beyond Wales by the time they host the Russians on Wednesday. But realistically, the chances of reaching next summer's finals in South Africa were ended with the home defeat by Finland in March.
Toshack, who fears he will be without hamstring victim Jason Koumas on Wednesday, is only concerned now with performance. "There is no problem with motivation," he said.
"Playing for your country in a World Cup match should be all the motivation we need. But we cannot adulterate the competition and we have to do our very best for all the other teams in the group. We must get a positive result against Russia for our own benefit too."