Hammam thinks big as Cardiff face Leeds

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The Independent Football

Sam Hammam, the owner of Cardiff City, will today ask the Football Association for permission to move his club's third-round FA Cup tie against Leeds from Ninian Park to the Millennium Stadium.

"I'm going to approach the FA in the morning to see whether our game can be moved," Hammam said last night. "In my opinion it should be. We could get a crowd of between 50,000 and 70,000 and make it by far the biggest tie of the round.

"That would be good for the tournament, showing that a Second Division club can be so attractive, and it would be good for the FA.

"There are also safety considerations at our own ground. It can take 20,000 but the configuration is antiquated and there's a chance you could have thousands of people locked outside. It would be better at the Millennium Stadium."

The tie was one of the most intriguing in yesterday's draw, which saw the holders, Liverpool, paired at home against Birmingham, whom they beat in last season's Worthington Cup final. Manchester United were handed a tricky trip to Aston Villa, while there will also be potential banana-skin away-days for Arsenal and Chelsea, who travel to Watford and Norwich respectively.

The giant-killers of Canvey Island, who knocked Northampton out in the second round yesterday, have earned themselves a trip to the First Division leaders Burnley. The only other non-League side still in the tournament, Dagenham & Redbridge, will play hosts to Ipswich if they can defeat Exeter City in their second-round replay.

Cardiff's plan to move their game has already had the green light from the Millennium Stadium's owners. The Welsh Rugby Union had indicated prior to the draw that it would be happy to let them use the stadium.

"We would be delighted to give them the chance to play a big team there," Glanmor Griffiths, the WRU's chief executive, said. "It would be a fitting venue for a great Welsh occasion.

"But first we would have to run it past the FA to make sure they don't feel it's unfair for a team who might reach the final to play at the Millennium Stadium beforehand."

Addressing the latter point, Hammam said: "The FA have previously allowed Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Arsenal and Tottenham to play at Wembley before the final, so I don't see the problem."

Hammam was typically forthright in his assessment of Cardiff's draw. "Leeds are 10 times better than us technically but we want to acquit ourselves well and show that Welsh football has a club substantially bigger than Leeds.

"If we were already in the Premier League and in a bigger stadium – and we are trying to move to one – our crowds would be 50 per cent bigger than Leeds' crowds because of our catchment area.

"It's like a huge untapped oil well. As an oil well, we're the biggest club in the land, and, with the exceptions of Real Madrid and Barcelona, the biggest in Europe."