WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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WELSH Premier champions The New Saints returned to training today ahead of their Champions League tie.

Because the Saints will play in the first qualifying round this season which features just the eight lowest-seeded clubs in the competition they will bank just €200,000.

They will look to progress into the second stage to add another €300,000 and will face Northern Ireland champions Crusaders, B36 Torshavn of the Faroe Islands, Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar or SS Folgore of San Marino.

Saints' boss Craig Harrison has been to Gibraltar to watch the Red Imps and is sure to be an interested spectator when Crusaders host Airbus UK Broughton in a friendly on their artificial pitch at Seaview next month.

Crusaders have recent European experience, losing 5–3 on aggregate to FK Rabotnicki of Macedonia in the Europa League in 2009.

In 2011, the Irishmen drew Fulham in the same competition and put up a good performance despite an overall 7-1 defeat.

Crues drew Norwegians Rosenborg in both of the next two seasons, suffering heavy defeats on both occasions, before beating FK Ekranas of Lithuania in the first qualifying round a year ago.

They went on to exit 5-1 at the hands of Swedish outfit IF Brommapojkarna in the second round.

B36 Torshavn could provide tricky opposition having beaten Birkirkara of Malta in the Champions League back in 2006. 

In 2012 and 2014, they faced Linfield of Northern Ireland, losing in a penalty shoot out and then on a 3-2 aggregate last year.

In 2014, after Gibraltar had joined UEFA as its 54th member, Lincoln became the first team from the country to play in the Champions League. 

After claiming a 1–1 draw in the home match, they lost 5–2 at Faroese team HB and were eliminated in the first qualifying round.

Folgore, the first team from San Marino to play in Europe when they faced FC Basel in the 2000/1 UEFA Cup, now look forward to their Champions League qualifying bow. 

With the first leg due to be played on either June 30 or July 1, the draw takes place in Switzerland on June 22.