Cardiff City take on Fulham on Saturday 20th October at the Cardiff City Stadium in what is being billed as “the battle at the bottom.” There’s more to this game than the proverbial six points though, as tomorrow very much represents the collision of two opposing worlds.
In a world where football has become quite generic, even down to the kits each sides wear, it’s a breath of fresh air to see something different.
Fan-base income/Social make-up
On the 2nd August 2018, FootballTips.com released their study of 3,400 adults in the UK, detailing the average annual salary of Premier League supporters. Cardiff City supporters came bottom of the list in 20th place with a supposed average salary of £19,000 per year.
Whilst it would be a huge caricature to cast Cardiff supporters as mainly working-class, “blue-collar” workers, this does nevertheless represent much of the Bluebirds fanatical local support. It’s certainly how Neil Warnock defined them when asked why he thought they loved him so much, referring them to as “my type of people”.
Fulham supporters, on the other hand, were up in 11th position earning on average £8,000 a year more on £27,000 per annum. This, coupled with their snazzy West London location and their well-earned reputation for gentlemanly conduct (including what’s known as a “neutral stand,” where supporters can wear any colours they like), means that the two sets of supporters often represent very different social worlds.
Whilst this by no means encompasses all fans, it certainly gives a good indication of just where the two clubs lie, both financially and geographically.
Transfer fees spent
By the close of the 2018 summer transfer window, Fulham were the third highest spenders, having spent an eye-watering reported £110m on 12 new players. These include £22m on the much-fancied Aleksander Mitrovic and £25m on Jean Michael Seri from Nice.
Couple this with their owner’s now-rescinded £600m bid for Wembley Stadium and it’s clear that Fulham meant business. If they were going to go down then no one could accuse them of not spending serious money on some extremely good players.
Contrast this with the Cardiff City approach which saw them finish as the 16th highest spenders in the Premier League, having spent a reported £28.5m on six players, two of which were loan signings.
Only time will tell if the decision not to spend big will cost the Bluebirds their Premier League place, but as things stand today, they are only separated by three points and three places.
While the club approaches may be vastly different, it hasn’t yet shown itself on the league table.
Fulham play football and Cardiff City don’t, at least that’s the sort of expert analysis you’ll encounter on various social media feeds available today. Is this fair and what does it even mean?
It might be fair to say that there is a certain level of football snobbery that abounds in the media today. A snobbery that suggests that Fulham play football ‘the proper way’ and Cardiff City play a version of football that’s on the soon-to-be-extinct list, employing old-fashioned long ball (also known as hoof ball) tactics and thuggish behaviour.
Fulham undoubtedly DO play a pleasing style of football, in the eyes of many, involving a fast-passing game breaking quickly from back to front. It isn’t necessarily any more successful though (Fulham aren’t flying high and finished below Cardiff last season) or more fun to watch than the Cardiff City way, which includes fast balls out wide to pacey wingers, but reputations are not easily lost.
While the two clubs definitely do differ on how to win a match, one thing is for sure, entertainment and goal-mouth action should be aplenty on Saturday.
Cardiff City and Fulham DO represent different worlds, but this isn’t in itself unique. You could probably successfully argue this for most clubs in the Premier League.
What is true is that outside of their respective fish-bowls, the average armchair punter may have already decided who they’d like to see win ‘for the good of good football.’
However, ask both sets of supporters and they’ll tell you that regardless of HOW you end up staying up, the most important thing is that you do avoid the relegation trapdoor back to the nearly-land of Championship football.
Two worlds will collide on Saturday and it’s still possible that both may survive come May.