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View from the South Stand - Cardiff City 21/08/12

The first game at The Amex of 2012-2013 see's serial play-off failures Cardiff City visit. They've seen the dream of Premier League football quashed in the end-of-season lottery in each of the past three seasons.

The solution? Getting more money by taking a controversial decision to change to a red home kit for this season. We got the lowdown on a summer that could have been straight from the scripts of Sky One's Dream Team from Michael Morris of Cardiff City Mad

Cardiff City - the name conjures up images of a team in the Welsh capital playing in blue. Yet this season your owners have made the crazy decision to change to red. What was behind their thinking and how has it been met by the Bluebirds faithful?

The best answer we've received is that red is a better colour to market in the far east and can attract better sponsorship opportunities. It's even suggested that red is the owners lucky colour. Either way it's been changed on the instruction of one man who only became aware of the club in the last few years.

We've gone from being a small club to a bigger club in a very small space of time which has led to a lot of debate about what Brighton fans would be willing to sacrifice from the old small, friendly club feel in order to make it in the corporate world of the Premier League. Would Cardiff fans ever accept the change to red if it meant top flight football every season?
There are those of course who have bought this change and are now just waiting for Premier League football to happen. There are others who have given back their season tickets and in a few of my friends cases have taken up season tickets at their local non-league / lower league clubs (they live away from Cardiff). The majority are not overly impressed with the change but are accepting it because it's been sold to them as a deal breaker for a financially secure football club. What has amazed me is the general apathy of the fans who have just gone along with it. (Although I do find myself slipping into that mode now. I don't like the colour but just want to see my team play). Those who did attempt to make a stand against it were intimidated, bullied in a couple of instances and a planned protest stopped by the club from happening near the stadium. It has become the most dividing issue the club has ever faced. Just be careful what you wish for.

Ninian Park was one of the few remaining proper football grounds. How much difference has moving into your new stadium made to the club as a whole?
Now the move from Ninian Park has been a huge success for the further development of the club. That's one big change that has been welcomed by most. Of course there are those who long for the days of the terrace, the close compact nature of the older ground and the history that went with it but to be honest for every game where the ground was a cauldron of passion that saw teams like the 2002 Premier League leaders Leeds Utd scared into defeat there were times that 2000 fans stood in the rain seeing us beaten by a Hartlepool or a Rochdale. The move has taken us from one of the most hated clubs in the Football League to Family Club of the Year.

Cardiff City and play-off heartache has been the headline in the last few seasons. What do you need to finally get over that line in the race for Premier League and could this year by the one?
Strengthening in January has been something we've failed to do and I think it's been the difference. We have had quality squads with excellent players who just couldn't see it through. Dave Jones' teams were called 'Bottlers' after getting so close each time. Malky Mackay introduced a bit more grit into the side last year but we were never going to beat West Ham who were a class above us over two play off legs. The Carling Cup also took a lot out of the team. Can Malky do it this time? Well he's been allowed to buy players. Craig Bellamy is back and will play against BHA. Because of the way the owners have said we need to change colour to succeed there's a lot of expectation for promotion to come this season.

You've had your fair share of interesting characters in charge down the years. What's the opinion of Sam Hammam and Peter Ridsdale?
Sam woke the club up from it's lower league slumber but then went on to rack up debt and now, some six years after his departure from the club, we are still haggling over how many millions we still owe him. Ridsdale appeared to bring an element of organisation and professionalism with him but he was just lurching from one crisis to another robbing off Peter to pay Paul and infamously sold season tickets early with a promise of all the money to go to Dave Jones to buy players when in fact he used it to pay other debts. Some fans took him to court over that and Ridsdale had to appear before the beak but he was never tried and the case was closed. He also faced a number of high court appearances (as the representative of CCFC) to avoid the club being wound up. There were tax questions about how he paid himself. All very unpleasant. This is why many fans now are happy to change to red if it means the off-field problems go away.

Malky Mackay has done an impressive job at both Watford and with you in his short managerial career. How high do you think he can go?
He had a good first season. Cup final and play offs. He needs to up his game though. Teams that go on and get promoted are strong all season. Not just for parts of it. He has the managerial world in front of him.

It looks like being another wide open season in the Championship. Who would you pick to shine and struggle?
I'd expect Bolton and Wolves to be strong although both lost their opening games at the weekend. Birmingham and Leicester should be up there and Cardiff and Blackpool too. The bottom could well see Bristol City, Peterborough and maybe even Palace struggle. I think the three promoted teams from League 1 will all be OK.

Apart from Craig Bellamy who had an absolute stormer at The Amex last season for Liverpool in the Carling Cup, who would you pick for Brighton fans to look out for?
Peter Whittingham, he scored a cracker against you last season, Jordon Mutch and Aron Gunnarsson will control the midfield.  Heidar Helguson or Etien Velikonja (either/or will play up front) will be keen to get their first League goals for the club.

How much do you know about the current Brighton side?
You will always be a danger with Craig Mackail Smith and Craig Noone in the side. Also Wayne Bridge is a big name that all visiting fans should recognise.

Finally, a prediction for the game please? 
1 - 1

Many thanks to Michael for his insight into the forthcoming fixture. You can Tweet him at  Cardiff City Mad on Twitter congratulating him on his superb footballing knowledge by predicting that Palace will be relegated this season!

 


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