Cardiff or Swansea? – Who is more ready for the Premier League?

by admin

Friday, March 11th, 2011

10 years ago two of Wales’ biggest clubs, the Bluebirds and the Swans, were strung up in the dungeons of 3rd and 4th tier football battling to escape but struggling to survive in a desolate league stripped of cash and often swept under the rug and hidden away until the FA Cup. Now, however, it looks excitingly plausible that these two teams could be reaching the summit of English football.

Since Sam Hammam, the Lebanese businessman’s take over of Cardiff back in 2000 Wales’ capital embarked on a slightly rockier path to where they stand now than how they would have liked. Hammam from the very beginning said he wanted Cardiff City in the Premier League within the decade which was seemingly laughed off as the club hadn’t been anywhere near the top flight since the 70’s. The tail end of the last century wasn’t kind to bluebird fans but the Lebanon demanded and effectively instigated change.

Meanwhile, as Cardiff won promotion to League 1 in Hammam’s first season with the club Swansea took their place following relegation in a dire campaign seeing them win only eight times. What followed wasn’t nice. After their relegation the club were sold for £1 to an Australian consortium who’s first plan of action was to sack and terminate the contracts of 15 of their first team squad. The financial disorder and the disappointment on the pitch trio-ed with angst and frustration amongst the fans was all made worse with the growing success of their most hated rivals.

Cardiff won promotion again in 2003 through the play offs and it seemed that Sam Hammam’s punt for Premier League stardom was something of real substance. However, it wasn’t long before the elastic on the Bluebird’s stretching finances snapped and when it did players had to be sold and Football League sanctions had to be dodged. Key players like Earnshaw and Kavanagh were sold but this was merely the beginning. After narrowly escaping relegation in May of 2005 the summer transfer window led to the saddened departures of the rest of their best talent. Danny Gabbidon and James Collins left for West Ham as well as Jobi McAnuff and Richard Langely who left for Crystal Palace and QPR. This sparked a trend of Cardiff selling their best talent as soon as a lucrative offer came in rather than nurturing it using it to build on their own success. Most famous was the £5 million sale of Aaron Ramsey to Arsenal in 2008. This forced the club to rebuild under Dave Jones and without Hammam and with this the aim for top-flight football was back on.

Swansea showed determination however to catch the Bluebirds and they reached The Championship the season after Cardiff had come runners up in the FA Cup.

Now it’s present day and both with a squad, manager and stadium to rival that of a Premiership standard the two Welsh sides are ready to forget their troubled past and concentrate on a historic future.

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