Swansea City Move One Step Closer to Premier League Nirvana

The race to determine the third team to get promoted from the Championship to the Premier League took a step closer to be finalized yesterday after Swansea City defeated Nottingham Forest 3-1 to qualify for the Championship Playoff Final. Later today, Cardiff City will host Reading (live on FoxSoccer.tv) in the second leg of the Championship Playoff semi-final (aggregate score, so far, is 0-0). The winner of that match will play Swansea at Wembley Stadium in London on Monday, May 30 (a bank holiday in the United Kingdom and, conveniently, Memorial Day in the United States).

As a soccer fan, I’m hoping that Reading beats Cardiff City to reach the final today. I’m not saying that because I’m a Swansea supporter. But if Cardiff reaches the final, the Championship Playoff Final will cease to become an open and attacking match. It’ll become a fierce derby which, as many of us have witnessed in previous derbies around the world, becomes a very tense and frustrating experience. A derby final becomes less about soccer and more about not making a crucial mistake against your closest rival. For the sake of entertainment, a Swansea against Reading final would be a joy to watch.

Off the pitch, a Swansea against Cardiff final would be a nightmare to police. If Cardiff win today, it’s quite possible that the police may insist that this become a “bubble” final where Swansea and Cardiff supporters can only travel to the ground separately via authorized transport (either trains or buses, carefully separated and heavily policed). However, there wouldn’t be enough trains or buses to take approximately 72,000 fans from South Wales to London, so police may have no option other than patrolling the 200 miles stretch of M4 motorway between Swansea and London, and hoping that few incidents as possible occur. By the way, the animosity between Cardiff and Swansea supporters makes West Ham against Millwall look like a Sunday picnic. Obviously, police are very concerned about an all-Welsh Championship Playoff final.

Whether Swansea will play Reading or Cardiff in the final, the Swans will be confident going into the match that they can get the win necessary to get promoted to the Premier League where they’ll gain around around £90million in TV revenue, sponsorships, increased ticket revenue and more. As a pessimistic Swansea City supporter who was followed the team since 1979, I’m happy just to be in the final. It was only eight years ago when Swansea were at the bottom of the Football League and only one game away from relegation to the Conference. But in that last match of the season, Swansea beat Hull City 4-2 and stayed up. It was fitting then that the footballer who scored the opening goal last night for Swansea against Nottingham Forest was Leon Britton. The diminutive midfielder played in that win against Hull City and was fouled in the area which led to the penalty that opened up Swansea’s tally that day. Boy have times changed.

Anyone who has watched the Swans this season will have been mesmerized by the skill in this team. The club plays a total football brand of football with Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair attacking down the wings and Franco Borini and Stephen Dobbie up front. All through this Swansea City squad are class players from their goalkeeper Dorus de Vries to their defenders Ashley Williams, Alan Tate, Garry Monk and Angel Rangel. Last but not least is Swansea prodigy, midfielder Joe Allen who partners Britton in midfield. This is a team that has the potential to win hearts and minds of the hundreds of millions of people around the world who watch the Premier League.

But without getting too far ahead of myself, Swansea still have to win the final later this month. If they lose, they risk Premier League clubs (and other Championship clubs who have far bigger salary budgets) picking off most of the Swansea talent. Manager Brendan Rogers would be a target too for Premier League clubs looking for an experienced confident manager who has worked under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. So the stakes for Swansea are massive. A win and they’ll be up in the best league in the world. A loss and they’ll have a challenge keeping their best talent to rebuild for next season. Thankfully, right now the pressure is on Cardiff City to win its match today, while Swansea can begin resting and training for the final in two weeks. No matter who wins today, the 2011 Championship Playoff Final will be a must-see.

UPDATE: Swansea vs Reading in the Championship Final will be shown live on Fox Soccer Channel at 10am ET on Monday, May 30.

For more Championship coverage, visit our sister site Championship Talk.

24 thoughts on “Swansea City Move One Step Closer to Premier League Nirvana”

  1. I haven’t really watched the Championship this season but watching Swansea over these 2 legs made me a fan. I’d love to see guys like Dyer in the Premier League next year. He’s exciting to watch. There was some beautiful passing moves in the final third as well.

    I like Reading as well so if either of them win this thing I’ll be happy.

  2. If I remember correctly, the latest Deloitte’s breakdown had Everton at 8th in revenue in the Premiere League with like €96 million. That was for the 2009-2010 season.

    I have heard that Premier League clubs are getting a substantial boost this year via TV contracts. Is that the reason for the £90 million amount you mentioned?

    1. I forget which firm it was that came up with the estimate (I believe it was Deloitte), but basically the 90 million pound figure is an expression of how much more income a club gets by winning promotion to the Premier League, even if they are relegated the very next season, and comes from a number of factors: increased sponsorship, increased ticket sales and ticket prices, higher tv revenue, more merchandise sales, and the parachute payments the Premier League makes for 2 years to any club who’s relegated back down to the Championship.

      Of course, as I recall, that doesn’t take into account the increased costs in making the jump, most notably in player salaries and cost of player transfers. So a sizable portion of that 90 million will end up going right back out the door on the team itself.

    1. Scott Sinclair was transferred to Swansea last August for 500,000 pounds (rising to 1 million with performance bonuses).

      Fabio Borini went out on loan in March, so he’s still part of Chelsea for now. However, Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers has said he does want him permanently, and Borini is out of contract with Chelsea at the end of this season.

  3. Swansea played well in the first half but really dropped off in the second half which should worry any Swansea fan. Forest took it to Swansea in the second half and their physically bigger players caused all kinds of problems to Swansea. I’d be nervous if I was a Swansea fan.

    Cardiff are favorites to get to the final but I wouldn’t rule out a Reading win either. With the game being played in Cardiff I think Cardiff will win it by the odd goal. In Bellamy and Chopra they have a couple of match winners. Looking forward to this game this afternoon.

    Swansea vs Cardiff will be a nightmare for London residents and police if it happens. I can see a couple of red cards in this game too. Maybe the two sets of fans will kill eac other off before they get to the stadium :) .

    1. Jason, I agree that Swansea’s performance in the second half wasn’t as good as it could have been. Forest were the better side in the second half and really went at it. But despite that, Swansea still created several chances in the second half to put the game away. To me, they looked tired which is understandable given that they played the first leg with only 10 men and were by far the better side that night.

      The Gaffer

  4. I don’t suppose the playoff final will be broadcast in HD, will it? Even if it is, it would be on FS+ and probably not broadcast on the part-time 621-1 on DirecTV. Shame.

    1. I’ve been disappointed with FSP and DirecTV not broadcasting these games in HD. They’re supposed to broadcast ALL live matches in HD. They really need to either improve to full time HD or lower the cost of this service. I’ll probably remove FSP from my service until the Premier League starts up again and hopefully by then they’ll have made some changes.

      1. Must just be a DirecTV thing. I have FS+ through TimeWarner (eastern NC) and everything is in HD. Additionally, it is part of the sports pack which has a bunch of other channels, some useful, some not…but the whole mess only costs $4.50 per month. :-)

        1. Apparently it cost less for DirecTV to purchase live only HD from FSP. I don’t think it was a bandwidth concern.

          I get FSC and GolTV along with all the regional sports channels for like $10-12 a month (I can’t remember off the top of my head). But DirecTV charges $15 for just FSP with only the live matches in HD (well, not counting the Championship playoff). I guess they know that fans of the Premier League will pay whatever they ask.

  5. Gaffer,
    you must be an american because you have missed the fact that an all welsh final would be high drama and the FA, always anti-welsh, would be hating life. This fact along would convince anyone with half a brain to want Cardiff to win. Who really cares about Reading? nobody. To have a welsh team in the epl for the first time would also be a massive change from the idea of the epl being an ‘english’ league. Have a little sense and do a little research before you write these things will you???

    1. You should have stopped with your next to last sentence.

      Otherwise, I agree. The Gaffer’s misgivings aside, I think an all Welsh final would be great for just the reasons you stated. I’d rather Swansea, but I’ll take Cardiff. Now, the Gaffer would have some trouble getting that sentence out, 😉 but I understand.

    2. What does being American have to do with it? For the record, I’m Welsh and American.

      A lot of people care about Reading. They were well-liked when they went up to the Premier League a few years ago.

      The Gaffer

  6. I was voting for Forest but Swansea deserved the win, I think Forest really lost this in the first leg when they were outplayed despite being a man up for almost the entire match. Really disappointed with DirecTV, fortunately they had a promo to get FSC+ free for this month but I would never pay $15 a month to not even get everything in HD. I will tell them so when I cancel the channel at the end of this month.

  7. Very disappointing performance by Cardiff. Reading deserved the win and will now face a Swansea team that should fancy their chances at Wembley. Hopefully the final will be an entertaining affair. Will the final on the 30th be on FS+ and foxsoccer.tv or will FSC show it? I hope it’s FSC as I don’t get FS+ and would like to see it in HD.

    1. Well, seeing that Goal #1 was scored after a clear handball by Shane Long, that changed the whole affair. Add to that another ignored handball by the keeper, and I do think that Cardiff have a couple of gripes. But Reading played better once in the lead, and Cardiff couldn’t link up when it really counted. Tough loss.

  8. Sad days to be a Forest fan. Another playoff loss. These chances don’t come around that often.

    Congrats to Swansea (and The Gaffer). They deserve their victory.

  9. Tickets for the final have been on sale to Swansea supporters for less than one week, and they’ve already almost sold out on their allotment of 37,000-40,000 tickets. Only 2,500-3,000 remain. Not bad for a club that’s been averaging attendances of 15,000 in the league.

    The Gaffer

  10. I just hope that Swansea win it because not only will those 40,000 supporters be disappointed but most of Wales too, except Cardiff. It would be great to see a Welsh club in the EPL. Reading won’t be easy to beat but on present form one has to give the edge to Swansea. I just hope their young guns don’t melt on the big stage. That’s my main concern.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *