FA back Cardiff City for Europe

Last updated : 29 April 2008 By Michael Morris
I'm sure the FA have been forced into a decision they never thought they'd have to make. Cardiff City have had their road to Europe blocked by the Football Association of Wales for the best part of 15 years. It's never been clear what would happen if Cardiff managed to get into a qualifying position from an FA organised competition like the Premier League or a Cup competition.

Well the amazing cup run this year has opened the debate and brought it to a conclusion. Strongly influenced by Uefa I suspect.

Michel Platini, head honcho of Uefa came out and said that if the FA refused to offer Cardiff a place in the Uefa Cup if they win the FA Cup then he would give them a wild card as he believed Cardiff would have deserved a place.

The matter remained unreslolved until last week when the FA issued the following satement.

"The board has given full approval for Cardiff City to participate in next season's Uefa Cup as one of England's representatives, should they win this season's FA Cup."

It's a difficult situation to try and comprehend especially as we could have a scenario where Cardiff City, a Welsh club playing in England, could face Oswestry, an English club playing in Wales.

Personally I'm more than happy never to qualify through the FAW and only earn our place in these circumstances and follow the path open to the 92 league clubs in the English pyramid system. I'd rather throw my hat into a system that could see us facing Man Utd and Arsenal etc rather than being forced into the LoW and facing TNS and Aberystwyth, with all due respect to both teams.

Those views are not shared by former FAW secretary Alun Evans

"It's good news for Cardiff City and its fans," he explained. "But in administrative terms and in terms of the credibility of Welsh football on an international basis then I don't think the argument for their entrance into Europe can be sustained.

"For all that Cardiff have played for 80-odd years in the FA Cup, they also played in the Welsh Cup and represented Wales on several occasions through that competition. The job of the Welsh FA has been to work towards getting Cardiff back towards representing Wales.

"It would have been far better if we could have worked back towards that or indeed to get a Cardiff team and a Swansea team and a Wrexham team in the League of Wales.

"The reintegration of those clubs into Welsh football structures is now going to be put aside effectively forever.

"At the moment you might as well say that Cardiff is an English club and has no relevance to Welsh football.

"Cardiff are now designated as an English club and so are Swansea and all the other teams playing in England."

Evans' words have not impressed Peter Ridsdale.

He responded with talk of possibly affiliating fully with the English FA.

"What we need to do is spend this summer talking to the English FA about whether we should be fully affiliated to them," Ridsdale told BBC Wales.

"It's a disgrace suggesting that we're not doing anything for Welsh football.

"We supply a number of their players both at full international level and obviously in the Under-21s and further down the youth system.

"We are the capital of Wales and we are in the FA Cup final - we should be using that positively and not negatively."

"People should be congratulating us on getting to an FA Cup final for the first time in 81 years," Ridsdale added.

"To start going to the press and saying we shouldn't be allowed in the Uefa Cup if we win it is beyond acceptability.

"The FAW have got their own plans which they seem to be sharing with nobody but themselves.

"Alun hasn't spoken to me about them, nor has anyone else at the FAW and we've played in the English league system now for almost 100 years.

"Why shouldn't we get the same rewards as anybody else who wins one of their competitions."

The two FA Cup managers are also happy with the FA's decision.

"If Cardiff City beat us, I will support them 100 % in Europe," said Harry Redknapp.

"If they win the FA Cup, they should be in Europe.

"Cardiff have been in the English league for 80-odd years. If they do win I'll shake Dave Jones' hand and wish them well in Europe.

"Why it was ever a question in the first place beats me. What is the point in entering if you know you've got no chance?"

"If we won the prize then rightly so," Dave Jones said. "The question needed to be answered before the game rather than after it and now it's done.

"It's an unusual situation and now that we've got there [to the FA Cup final] the FA has answered it in the right way thankfully.

"Now we can look forward to winning it, that's the hard bit now.

"It's an added incentive to be able to go into Europe for the players, of course it is."