The official website for European football

Examples for Cardiff's Premier League bow

Published: Thursday 15 August 2013, 15.40CET
With Cardiff City FC playing their first English top-flight game since the Premier League's formation on Saturday, looks at five of the more impressive recent debuts.
by Paul Saffer
from London
Examples for Cardiff's Premier League bow
Cardiff City delight in their promotion ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 15 August 2013, 15.40CET

Examples for Cardiff's Premier League bow

With Cardiff City FC playing their first English top-flight game since the Premier League's formation on Saturday, looks at five of the more impressive recent debuts.

Cardiff City FC play their first English top-flight game in more than 50 years when the team from the Welsh capital visit West Ham United FC on Saturday.

Relegated from the old first division in 1961/62, Cardiff's promotion last term ensured a debut campaign in the Premier League – which was formed in 1992 when City had just ended their only spell in the fourth tier. The 26th club to be promoted to the Premier League, Cardiff will want to avoid the fate of 11 of the previous 25 – immediate demotion. However, there have been some impressive Premier League bows and looks at five, including one close to home in south Wales.

Swansea City AFC 2011/12
Like their Welsh rivals, Swansea had fallen far since dropping out of the top flight in 1982/83 – mainly bouncing between the third and fourth tiers and only avoiding relegation from the Football League altogether on the final day of the 2002/03 season. But with new ownership and a fresh, modern stadium – where they moved in 2005 – Swansea were soon on the up and in 2010/11 a 4-2 play-off defeat of Reading FC sent them into the elite league.

Playing a positive, expansive brand of football introduced by former manager Roberto Martínez and adapted by Brendan Rodgers, Swansea proved a surprise package, with eventual champions Manchester City FC, Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC among their scalps as they came 11th. And where other newcomers suffer 'second season syndrome' after strong debuts, Swansea took Rodgers' departure to Liverpool in their stride by improving under Michael Laudrup, finishing ninth and lifting the English League Cup to book a UEFA Europa League qualifying berth.

Reading FC 2006/07
Unlike Cardiff and Swansea, Reading had never played in England's top division in its pre-Premier League incarnation when they won the second-tier Championship in 2005/06 with a record 106 points. Despite that record they were tipped for relegation, but the fact that Steve Coppell was named the league's manager of the month in both September and November is testament to how well they performed.

They came eighth, just one point behind Bolton Wanderers FC in the last UEFA Cup slot. However, they dropped out of the division the following campaign and in 2011 were denied a return by Swansea, having beaten Cardiff in the play-off semi-finals.

Wigan Athletic FC 2005/06
Reading at least had been a league club for 86 years when they were promoted in 2006; a year before, Wigan got into the Premier League having only attained league status in 1978, the town more associated with rugby league than football. A decade earlier they had languished around the bottom of the fourth tier with average crowds below 2,000 but their purchase by local sportswear tycoon Dave Whelan transformed Wigan's fortunes and, despite a high turnover of managers, the team made it to the top flight.

Many expected them to falter, but in their opening match against champions Chelsea FC they lost narrowly to an added-time Didier Drogba goal and by November they were second and heading for the League Cup final. They would falter to tenth and succumb 4-0 to Manchester United FC in that final, yet despite regularly losing players and managers to rivals, they remained in the Premier League until 2013 – when amid relegation, they also landed a first major trophy, the FA Cup, beating Manchester City to earn a UEFA Europa League group bow.

Portsmouth FC 2003/04
Having been in the old first division in 1987/88 – their sole top-flight appearance since a 32-year stay ended in 1958/59 – Portsmouth returned in 2003 and were top after three games. Miserable away form, having to wait until March for a win on the road, took Pompey down the table but at home they were a tough proposition: the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Manchester United yielding at Fratton Park, while they held Arsenal twice, one of only two teams to avoid defeat against the Gunners (who were champions without losing a match).

They finished 13th, with the fifth-best home record, and under Harry Redknapp established themselves in the elite division for seven seasons, winning the 2008 FA Cup and entering the UEFA Cup before financial problems had them plummeting back down the divisions.

Fulham FC 2001/02
In just two campaigns have all three promoted sides avoided relegation from the Premier League – 2011/12 and a decade earlier, when Fulham, Bolton Wanderers FC and Blackburn Rovers FC all stayed up. Blackburn had been champions in 1994/95 and Bolton also had Premier League experience, but for Fulham it was their first top-flight campaign since the 1960s, having occupied the fourth tier as recently as 1996/97.

Like Swansea and Wigan, their rise had been swift and with an experienced squad under Jean Tigana they made a solid start and came in 13th. However, they were in for the long haul and more than a decade later remain a Premier League outfit, developing to the point where they reached the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League final.

Last updated: 05/09/13 6.39CET