Good for Welsh football or one heartbreak too many?

FLYING HIGH: Brendan Rodgers celebrates with his Swansea
players following their 4-2 win over Reading at Wembley.
If there's one thing I've learned in my 34 years it is that sport is never dull.  Writing on the evening of an incredible (and only hours ago entirely improbable) test match win for England over Sri Lankan here in Cardiff, I'm full of the joys that competitive sport can bring to both players and spectators.

However, the other side of the coin is the heartbreak and frustration that losing can bring.  This feeling is always exacerbated when the victors are local rivals, always intent on spoiling your party.  I write today about Swansea City; promoted to the Premier League for the first time and becoming the first Welsh club to join the elite ranks of English football.  This on the same day that Cardiff City sacked their manager of six years, Dave Jones.  The decision to terminate Jones' contract came as no surprise to the majority of fans, but has divided opinion between those who say he was tactically inept and had 'lost the dressing-room', versus folks who ask 'who's a viable replacement'?  This argument will rumble on for days to come, but for me I'd like to see either Roberto Di Matteo or Chris Hughton, both of whom would bring an entirely new style of play as the Bluebirds begin their rebuilding.

Swansea's promotion, though, is also polarising opinion amongst the Cardiff City faithful.  The rivalry between both clubs has always been turbulent and sadly often violent. This has done nothing to convince many English fans of the merits of having a Welsh club in the Premier League.  Perhaps the bigger picture is the impact that Swansea's promotion will have on Welsh football. As of August this year, some of the finest teams and players will be travelling down the M4, beyond Reading, to play at the Liberty Stadium.  The boost for local economy will be invaluable during these harsh economic times.  The city of Cardiff itself may also benefit with away fans possibly stopping off in the capital to enjoy our exciting city before and after games.  Swansea will hopefully look to use some of their promotion payment to not only buy players, but invest in facilities for youth training and development.  For me, this can only help Welsh football if, as a result, new talent emerges and a new genertion of homegrown players breaks into the national side.

Let's be clear; I'm writing from a very long-term perspective.  In the here and now, Cardiff City fans will be feeling the double blow of losing their manager and seeing their biggest rivals promoted in one day.  My views will not be liked by some either.  Surely, however, once the dust has settled we must all hope that the English Premier League benefits from a touch of Welshness and that Swansea flies the flag for Wales during the coming season, remaining in the Premier League ready for season 2012/2013 when they can look forward to the derby of derbys against a resurgent Cardiff City.

Francis Taylor.


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