South East Wales

Cardiff City fans celebrate first promotion to Premier League

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Media captionCardiff City says it has already started planning for life with the elite

Cardiff City fans are celebrating the club winning promotion to the Premier League.

The Championship leaders needed just a draw at home to Charlton to secure top level football next season.

It came exactly 53 years to the day Cardiff last won promotion to football's top tier but a first since the Premier League came into being.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said promotion was fantastic news for Cardiff City and for Welsh football.

"The club and its supporters have been through some testing times in recent years but this season Malky and the team have done a great job of keeping their heads and getting results and with this promotion. They have made the city truly proud," said Mr Jones.

"This achievement will place Cardiff on the world stage, with visiting supporters bringing vast economic benefits to the city.

Grown men cried

"We must now work together to maximise the opportunities that promotion brings to the club, the city and to Wales."

Inside the Cardiff City Stadium there was an expectant but nervous atmosphere throughout most of the game.

Thousands of fans who had seen their team go so close so many times were aware that City had a painful habit of stumbling.

But as word spread around the ground that Watford were losing, supporters got to their feet, finally convinced that this would be the night.

When the final whistle blew the stadium erupted and thousands of fans poured onto the pitch.

Grown men cried and hugged each other at the realisation that a dream had come true.

It took a long time to clear the fans from the pitch to allow club owner Vincent Tan and the players to reappear for more accolades.

Eventually the stadium emptied as thousands of supporters headed into the night and for a celebratory drink or two.

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Media captionThe Championship leaders only needed a draw at home against Charlton Athletic to secure top flight football next season

Herald bonanza

It also means that next season two of the Premier League's 20 clubs will be Welsh. The club can also expect a major windfall from TV revenue by joining Swansea City among the elite.

Malaysian-owned Cardiff were last promoted to the old First Division of the Football League exactly 53 years earlier, on 16 April 1960.

The club were relegated two seasons later and have had their share of struggles over the years, including periods in the league's bottom tier in the late 1980s and 1990s.

They came close to promotion to the Premier League in 2010 but lost to Blackpool in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Image caption Craig Bellamy celebrates after Cardiff's historic promotion to the Premier League

Led by Scottish manager Malky Mackay, the Bluebirds have been top of the Championship since late November and another sell-out crowd of more than 26,000 saw the team clinch promotion at Cardiff City Stadium.

Promotion to the top flight is expected to herald a bonanza for both the club and the city of Cardiff.

A recent study estimated that Swansea's first Premier League season was worth £58m to the city, creating or securing about 340 jobs.

Various estimates put the value to the city from Cardiff's promotion as being worth between a few hundred to 5,000 jobs.

Cardiff council leader Heather Joyce congratulated the club on securing promotion, calling it a fantastic achievement and said it was a historic, exciting day.

"Having Premier League football in Cardiff is vitally important for this city," she said.

"As a capital we're used to hosting major events but Premier League football has been the missing piece in our sporting jigsaw so it is really thrilling that Cardiff will now be able to host some of the biggest names in world football such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

"And of course the economic boost for the city will also be huge, with today's promotion potentially leading to hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs as well as the tourism benefits that the number of visiting fans will bring."

South Wales Central AM and leader of the Conservatives in the assembly Andrew RT Davies said: "Cardiff have had a fantastic season and I am overjoyed that promotion has now been secured."

Image caption Cardiff City chairman Vincent Tan celebrating his team's promotion

Plaid Cymru AM Lindsay Whittle, the party's spokesperson on sport, said: "This is great news for Wales for we will have two teams in the top division for the first time in history. I'm sure fans of Cardiff City and Swansea City are looking forward to renewing their passionate rivalry."

Gary Lineker, presenter of the BBC's Match of the Day programme, tweeted: "Congratulations to Cardiff! Look forward to seeing you in the Premier League next season and introducing you on #MOTD."

For the 20 Premier League sides, the new TV deal is expected to be worth £30m to each club in the 2013/14 season.

Cardiff City's Malaysian owner Mr Tan is understood to have big plans for the club with its growing stature.

In an interview with BBC Wales earlier this year he revealed he plans to turn the club into a force in Asia.

Mr Tan said he would spend up to £25m on new players if City reached the Premier League and defended the controversial re-brand in which the team's shirts changed from blue to red.

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