Football / Fan's Eye View: Step down to fame: No. 26 - Cardiff City

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The Independent Online
THE Konica League of Wales is hardly the Serie A or the Scottish Premier League, but you cannot tell Rick Wright that.

Wright is the bespectacled saviour of Cardiff City Football Club. He has transferred the holiday camp atmosphere of his Barry-based Majestic Holidays to Ninian Park, the home of 'The City'.

He believes that City can become the Rangers of Welsh football via the Konica League (whose champions will enter the European Cup). A league composed of part-time clubs with part-time players watched by crowds occasionally in excess of 500] Imagine the mass of transfer requests from players desperate to join City in order to face the likes of Inter Cardiff.

The holiday tycoon has had better ideas. Ninian Park will shortly become an impressive 20,000 all-seat stadium. You cannot, however, please everyone and it appears that an increasing number of supporters are ready to launch a 'stand for the right to stand' campaign. Understandable, yes, but come on lads, this is progress isn't it?

Wright has also instigated a 'pay as we play' scheme, which involves a price increase each time City reach a particular position in the division, culminating in the summit. The problem from Wright's financial point of view is that the players appear to suffer vertigo when they reach the heights of the top half a dozen or so. The idea is a popular one and Wright's lead will surely be followed by other clubs.

When City failed to entice Kevin MacDonald to the manager's office they turned to Eddie May, the former Wrexham and Swansea centre-half, who apparently enjoys god-like status in a little-known hamlet somewhere in Scandinavia, where he was the coach.

May has enjoyed extensive financial support ( pounds 400,000 plus) from the board (Wright's wallet), which has enabled him to turn the club from a mid-table Fourth Division team into an upper Third Division team. Progress, some may say, but not when you realise that City have in fact gone nowhere, it is just the name of the division that has changed.

May has occasionally surpassed himself and actually made some excellent signings. Carl Dale is class, pure undiluted class. He has, since his arrival from Chester, illuminated 'The Park' with truly majestic goals.

Another player who appears ready to challenge Dale for the mantle of Ninian Park 'golden boy' is Phil Stant, a balding ex-soldier who has that crucial instinctive touch in front of goal. Stant's arrival has added another song to the 'Bob Bankers' repertoire. 'Who needs Cantona, when we've got Stant-ona?' Embarrassing? Yes, just a little.

The Bob Bank has always belched out the odd, strange song or two, 'Psycho do the Ayatollah' being another current favourite. This involves the City defender, Jason Perry, continually smacking the top of his head.

'The Ayatollah' is also a favourite pastime of the City supporter at both home and away games. The sight of a couple of thousand people jumping up and down while tapping the top of their head can be quite an unusual and amusing sight.

All in all, the majority of Wright's ideas have been productive. He has without doubt saved the club from joining Maidstone, Aldershot, Newport County and a few others in the ranks of former League clubs.

He rescued us from the clutches of the previous incumbent, Tony Clemo, disposed of the eccentric Len Ashurst and provided the one thing that has been missing from 'The Park' for many years . . . hope.

Everything seemed rosy, until recently that is. The ridiculous proposal regarding the possible resignation from the Football League in order to join the League of Wales was followed by an even more disturbing suggestion. 'Rick Wright threatens to liquidate football club' was how the media portrayed his latest bombshell.

Wright has apparently decided that enough is enough. He is no longer prepared to carry the financial burden on his own. If no support is received by the end of the season he will sell the players and liquidate the club.

City have been officially for sale since Wright became owner. In the present economic climate no buyer has been or, I feel, will be found. I have no doubt that Wright will carry out his threat and will some time in the summer lock the gates for the last time, leaving the City faithful with the choice of shopping or an afternoon with Inter Cardiff. Surely he won't, will he?

Matthew Chapman, Season Ticket Holder