Lennie comfortable in the 1st Division.

Last updated : 02 June 2003 By Michael Morris

FOR the majority of Cardiff City fans, Division One football will be a whole new ball game but, luckily for them, manager Lennie Lawrence knows his way around the level as well as anyone.

Lawrence has spent the majority of his managerial career in the First Division, with the likes of Bradford and Grimsby, and has achieved promotion to the top flight twice with two different clubs - Charlton in 1986 and Middlesbrough in 1992.

"Most of my career has been spent in that division so I know roughly what it's all about," said the City boss.

"It's a different type of game to the Second Division. One difference is that the First Division players will not look on Cardiff away as the highlight of their campaign, it will be just another game for them.

"There are also a lot of foreign players in Division One. In the Second Division, players come here and they are nearly all British, now they might be a bit limited, but they will have a battle and a fight.

"There's a few teams in the First Division who can do you more physical damage than the average Second Division team, but when the chips are down they might not find as much fight and resilience as your average Second Division team.

"That said, I have an open mind on buying foreign players.

"I wouldn't particularly be looking to go outside the EU, but every once in a while your average First Division manager has to get up at 5am in the morning and get to an airport and fly to Norway or Sweden or Denmark and see what's about."

One advantage Cardiff will hold over many First Division clubs is financial stability.

The collapse of the ITV Digital television deal last year left many chairmen scratching around in empty pockets for funds.

"Football is getting a lot more realistic now, especially in the First Division, and there are a few clubs where it's getting a bit tight," said Lawrence.

"That doesn't affect us. "That problem didn't really hit the Second and Third Division teams because they never really got that kind of TV money in the first place.

"When I was at Grimsby in the first year I kept them up, they were getting a cheque for £1.9m dropped through the letterbox in September.

"That's a lot of money and you pay people and organise based on that, but then the next year nothing came through.

"Now the TV money has finished up at around £400,000 and that's a big loss for them, but we'll actually be getting a bit more than we are used to following promotion."