Oswestry side TNS are in the Faroe Islands for tonight’s second qualifying round contest against B36 Torshavn, which is worth £240,000 to the winner, writes Lewis Cox.
Ruscoe’s Saints have already pocketed around £220,000 in prize money after coming through a first qualifying round tie against Slovak side MSK Zilina at Park Hall.
Given the Covid-19 pandemic – and more importantly because TNS finished second in Cymru Premier last season, meaning Europa League and not the more lucrative Champions League qualifying this term – the boss knows the stakes are high. You don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself but the chairman wants you to win games in the early rounds,” said Ruscoe, whose side opened their domestic league season with a 3-0 win at Barry Town last Saturday.
“We came second, so there’s a deficit in the playing budget.
“Every single season it’s vital we do as well as we can and get through the rounds we are supposed to.
“It gives you that budget for the following season. It’s no good getting to Europe and falling flat, not earning money and getting that budget – the extra player needed or things like a new gym or new equipment or physio.
“It’s vital for us Welsh Premier clubs to get that extra tie in Europe to make it sustainable. I’m aware of it after 18 years at the club. I know what is needed when the money comes the following November.
“The year before we were 1.1million euros and won the league and got the bonus of winning in Kosovo in the Champions League and two more games in Europe gave us decent prize money.”
As the seeded team, TNS go to part-timers Torshavn, who finished second in the Faroe Islands Premier League last season, as favourites.
The prospect of a trip to European heavyweights CSKA Sofia or BATE Borisov, whose budgets dwarf that of the Saints, lies ahead at the next stage.
Ruscoe added: “We know the opposition we could play if we were to win so let’s continue it, let’s continue these top games.
“They are special evenings, whether you’ve got 10 people from the club there, or 700 which we’ve had in the past.
“We’ve played in front of 20-plus thousand, 45,000 and I’ve been part of it. It’s special.
“Life passes you by anyway, so when you get the chance to play in these games you’ve got to take it by the scruff of the neck, get on top of the opposition, press, harry and be fitter. We’ve got to create chances and not let it pass us by, that’s the message.”