There is clearly more than one way of bringing ‘electrification’ to Swansea. Winning at Wembley is one of them. The promotion of the Swans to the Premier League is something in which the whole of Wales will rejoice, and it will do the city a power of good in all sorts of ways.
Swansea is a city that deserves a new period in the limelight. Despite its rich cultural, scientific and sporting history, it found it difficult to sustain its quiet, confident identity in the wake of Hitler’s bombing and the confirmation of Cardiff’s capital status scarcely more than a decade later. In recent decades it has tended to look over its shoulder at the capital down the road with a counter-productive envy. That can now be put to bed.
The achievement of a place in football’s Premier League should not only be a turning point in the football club’s history and a boon to the local economy, it could also be a means to recover a self-assurance for the city that should be more than justified by its history, the physical asset of its spectacular location and the scale of media exposure that will now surely come its way.
Much was made of the marketing impact of Newport’s Ryder Cup last October, but its world-wide audience was there for one weekend. The Premier League is watched across the world throughout the season, week after week, year after year. As long as the Swans can stay in the league – and there is no reason why they should not – the return on this promotion can be large and recurring.
The benefits will also be felt outside the city, as the thousands that will travel to games in Swansea will also discover other parts of south Wales. It will parallel, albeit on a slightly different scale, the effect of staging soccer Cup Finals in Cardiff when Wembley was being rebuilt.
The other reason to rejoice is because of the nature of the ownership of the club. Unlike some of the other Premier League Clubs, and unlike Cardiff City, it is not a club saddled with debt and private foreign ownership, and is 20 per cent owned by its fans, through a Swansea City Supporters’ Trust. Its success over the last season has conveyed a sense of togetherness between board, management, teams and fans that, in recent years, has not been matched by Cardiff City down the road, despite the efforts of honest and capable managers such as the now sacked Dave Jones. Some may argue that the nature of ownership does not necessarily affect what happens on the pitch, but who is to say that it is not a tangible benefit for teams not yet tainted with the irrationally high expenditures of some major clubs.
Let us hope that Swansea City will be a fixture in the Premier League for many years longer than their short-lived stay in the old First Division under John Toshack, and that, sooner rather than later, fans will ride in style to the Liberty Stadium on an electrified rail system.