The Championship beckons after Cardiff's 4-0 hammering away at Sunderland -- football in the second tier is going to mean lower crowds and with 5,000 extra seats being added at the moment, the atmosphere will pale in comparison to the Premier League noise unless the team are challenging at the top of the table.
It's going to be an interesting summer at Cardiff City Stadium. Vincent Tan may get a chance to look at the mistakes made and the divisions driven between the fans.
- Report: Sunderland 4-0 Cardiff
On the theme of mistakes, the decision to send off Juan Cala at the Stadium of Light was questionable at least, and Cardiff had no way back when Fabio Borini made it 2-0 on the stroke of halftime. Luck has largely deserted Cardiff this season, and just when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men could have profited from some fortune, it wasn't to be.
Sunderland have enjoyed a fine resurgence under Gus Poyet but were given a significant helping hand on Sunday in this relegation battle. Cala, after a suicidal error, made the first contact with Connor Wickham outside the penalty area, but Wickham broke loose from the foul and referee Phil Dowd allowed him the advantage. Wickham was foiled by David Marshall and the City defence before finally attempting a cross into the box.
Despite twice allowing Wickham the advantage, Dowd then reverted to the original challenge and red carded Cala before awarding a penalty. It was a question of following the letter of the law or managing the situation, which referees are told to do. In the end, Dowd sent Cala off, and with that, hope drained away.
Cardiff might still earn enough points to challenge Fulham and Norwich, but with Sunderland having a game in hand -- West Bromwich Albion at home -- and a final-day home game against Swansea, I can't see that any of Solskjaer's men, Fulham or Norwich catching the Black Cats.
Solskjaer, brought in to save the club, refused to talk about the penalty and red card but admits that relegation could be imminent
“Going in at halftime 2-0 down made it very hard for us,” said Solskjaer. “But I don’t want to talk about the decision because it’s been made and there is absolutely nothing I can say to change that.
“It could send us down, but I don’t want to comment on the decision. It’s the result that matters, and we lost.”
Relegation would be celebrated by quite a number of fans throughout the football world after the mess made off the field by Tan. It will be seen as comeuppance after he changed the identity of the club and sacked popular manager Malky Mackay after a messy public dispute.
Disregarding the boardroom mess, Cardiff won the right to have a chance at the top table. It seems, though, they have outstayed their welcome in the top division, having fought so long to get there. Will it take another 50 years to return? Parachute payments may help the regeneration after relegation, but with Tan at the helm, this is precarious territory.