Welsh joy as Cardiff City joins Swansea in Premier League
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Cardiff City player Kim Bo-Kyung celebrates after his team gained promotion to the Premier League after the goalless Championship draw against Charlton. The final whistle sparked memorable scenes in the Welsh capital 53 years to the day since the team last achieved promotion to the top tier of English football. Cardiff will join Swansea as the second Welsh team in the Premier League.Tears flowed as Cardiff City reached the English top flight for the first time in the Premier League era following a 0-0 draw at home to Charlton Athletic in the Championship on April 16.
The result guaranteed their return to the elite after a 51-year absence and prompted delirious fans to spill onto the pitch in celebration at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Cardiff will join fellow Welsh side, and sworn rivals, Swansea City in the Premier League next season, when there will be two teams from Wales in the English top flight for the first time.
Cardiff forward Craig Bellamy, formerly of Liverpool and Manchester City, burst into tears at the final whistle, having returned to his home-town club last year to lead their push for promotion.
“It’s nice to be over the finish line. We deserve to go up, there’s no doubt about it,” the Wales international striker told Sky Sports.
“Let’s enjoy tonight and see where the next two weeks take us, try and finish as champions.
Cardiff avoids Charlton upset
“This city’s been craving it for a number of years now. It’s going to be good.”
Charlton’s Johnnie Jackson came close to spoiling the promotion party on an emotional evening in the Welsh capital when he curled a free-kick against the post in the first half.
Craig Noone thought he had scored for the hosts late in the second half, only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.
It mattered not, though, as news of third-place Watford’s 1-0 defeat at Millwall guaranteed Cardiff’s promotion and sparked the pitch invasion that greeted the final whistle.
“It’s not really sunk in right now,” said manager Malky Mackay in an on-pitch television interview as he surveyed the scenes of celebration.
“There was a lot of hard work by a lot of people at the club and I’m delighted for these people.”
The Bluebirds last played among the English elite in 1962 and were playing in the fourth tier as recently as 2001.
Ironically, their promotion comes at the end of a season that began amid angry protests at Malaysian owner Vincent Tan’s controversial decision to change the club’s home kit from their habitual blue shirts with white socks to red shirts with black shorts.
He also altered the club’s crest, with a red dragon taking the place of the traditional bluebird, which was moved to the base of the badge.
Cardiff will now look to seal the Championship trophy by winning at Burnley on April 20.
There were tears of a different sort at Ashton Gate, after Bristol City’s 1-0 loss at home to Birmingham City consigned them to relegation to the third tier.
Despite its loss at beaten FA Cup semifinalists Millwall, Watford remains six points behind second-place Hull City, who lost 1-0 at relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Neither Brighton and Hove Albion nor Crystal Palace could capitalise on the misfortunes of the two teams above them though.
Brighton’s 0-0 draw at Peterborough United was nonetheless enough to take them above Palace into fourth place after the Eagles crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Ipswich Town.
Leicester City returned to the play-off places at the expense of Bolton Wanderers after a hard-fought 3-2 win over Dougie Freedman’s side at the King Power Stadium.
Meanwhile, 2008 FA Cup winners Portsmouth’s slide down the divisions continued as they were relegated to the fourth tier following Oldham Athletic’s 1-0 win over Yeovil Town in League One.
Portsmouth succumbed to severe financial problems following their relegation from the Premier League three years ago, but the club’s fans agreed a historic takeover of the club last week.