By Paul Jones
Former Manchester City skipper Andy Morrison is dreaming of meeting Celtic now that he can finally start preparing for Champions League football.
The High Court this week gave his Connah’s Quay Nomads side the go-ahead to make their debut in next season’s competition after backing the Football Association of Wales’ decision to declare Nomads Cymru Premier champions after ending the 2019/20 campaign early due to COVID-19.
That verdict was challenged by The New Saints, the champions of the previous eight years, who were four points behind the league leaders when lockdown came. But their bid was rejected by the High Court on Monday.
“The fact this was taken to the High Court was scandalous,” said Morrison.
“I don’t feel any euphoria about being given the go-ahead from the High Court to play in the Champions League.
“It will have cost Mike Harris, the TNS chairman, a lot of money and that’s a consequence of his actions. It should never, ever have come to this – it was just an ego trip.
“There were 10 other federations in Europe that had to make the same decision as the FAW, but nobody else challenged them. Even worse, the team that challenged the FAW actually plays in England!”
Morrison missed out on Champions League football as a player, featuring in one UEFA Cup tie when he was at Blackburn Rovers.
So, he is as keen as the players to hear the tournament anthem playing in August.
“Getting into the Champions League was the dream we had from day one when I first came to the Nomads. I really didn’t think it was possible in such a short time frame,” admitted Morrison.
“The draw is on 9 August and we could find ourselves playing against Celtic or Red Star Belgrade. Our preparation can now begin, although we are two weeks behind where we should have been in very difficult times.
“The players haven’t been together for four months and the court case has played a part in us, as well as Bala and Barry, not being able to prepare properly.
“It is very distasteful that we have all had to go through this, although at least now we can crack on.”
The preliminary round draw – for the bottom four leagues in Europe – takes place on Friday morning, with Connah’s Quay not having to enter until the first round proper.
Northern Irish club Linfield will take part in a four team tournament along with sides from Kosovo, San Marino and Andorra.
Linfield will be seeded for the draw, along with Kosovo side Drita, but their opponents from either San Marino or Andorra are still uncertain, with teams not required to be nominated until August 3.
The semi-finals and final will take place in Nyon, Switzerland, on August 8 and 11, and will be played behind closed doors.
One winner will progress to the first round proper of the Champions League on August 18-19.