Can the Bluebirds or the Swans take flight in the Premier League?

As the season enters the ‘home straight’, two clubs within Welsh cities are vying for a Premier League berth. Both Cardiff City and Swansea City just missed out on promotion in recent seasons, with Cardiff’s play-off final defeat to Blackpool last term the closest either side has come to top-flight football.

In Dave Jones, Cardiff possess a manager with extensive contacts. He is an experienced manager who boasts a healthy relationship with Arsene Wenger, a friendship that has proven fruitful for the Bluebirds, conveyed by the recent short-term borrowings of Aaron Ramsey and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. However, the biggest potential asset for Cardiff could be Michael Chopra, and not just for his goals. Despite representing England at under-21 level, Chopra has been headhunted by Indian coach Bob Houghton. Speaking in November, Chopra was aware of what representing India could mean for his club. He said: “It would help Cardiff City and boost Cardiff City because it would give them another avenue to promote the club.” Since then, Chopra’s international dream has caught a snag. He must surrender his UK passport in favour of an Indian passport in order to play, but the Cardiff City seed has already been planted in an area of the world ripe for marketability. Should any commercial revenue or investment be forthcoming, then budgeted alongside the highly lucrative rewards for promotion, the Bluebirds could be staring at a recipe for establishing themselves as a Premier League club.

There was no surprise that Craig Bellamy decided matters at the Liberty Stadium yesterday, although it was ironic; Bellamy is the perfect symbol to indicate the gulf of resources available to either side, and even though both clubs have strived to match their ambitions on the field and in the transfer market, the homecoming of Bellamy blew Swansea’s half-a-million pound record signing Scott Sinclair out of the water in terms of making a statement of intent. Bellamy’s deal at Cardiff holds extenuating circumstances, and a large part of the financial package has been off-set by parent club Manchester City, and such a deal would completely off limits for anyone working in a Liberty Stadium office.

Swansea’s plan to obtain top-flight football has been far more progressive. When Roberto Martinez left for Wigan he took Jordi Gomez, Jason Scotland and a number of backroom members of staff with him; his football philosophy remained, only for his successors to build on it, tweaking it slightly to reflect their managerial styles. Since the days of Martinez, Swansea have been far more defensively resolute whilst maintaining the elegant, attacking style which has become synonymous with the Swans.

Whilst it remains the English Premier League in name, the league is littered with foreign owners, players, and managers, but we may not have to wait much longer before a foreign club makes an appearance. There’s been endless debate over the legitimacy of Cardiff City and Swansea City playing within the English footballing structure, but the ambition of both clubs is sure to be merited with a place in the Premier League in the near future.

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