Following a meeting at the home of lithographic artist Bartley Wilson in Cardiff, the club was founded in 1899 as Riverside A.F.C., as a way of keeping players from the Riverside Cricket Club together and in shape during the winter months. Their first season saw them playing friendlies against local sides at their Sophia Gardens ground.
In 1900 they joined the Cardiff & District League for their first competitive season. In 1905, King Edward VII granted Cardiff city status. As a result the club put in a request to the South Wales and Monmouthshire Football Association to change their name to Cardiff City. The request was turned down as they were deemed not to be playing at a high enough level. To combat this the team arranged to join the South Wales Amateur League in 1907. The following year they were granted permission to change the name of the club to Cardiff City.
With the club growing in stature, they were forced to turn down the opportunity to join the newly formed Second Division of the Southern Football League due to the lack of facilities at their Sophia Gardens ground. Over the next two years, Cardiff played friendlies against some of Britain's top professional sides, including Middlesbrough, Bristol City and Crystal Palace. The matches were played at various grounds in Cardiff and nearby towns, to gauge the level of public interest in the team. The club eventually secured land to build their own stadium, moving into Ninian Park in 1910. They made their first signing the following year with the acquisition of Jack Evans from fellow Welsh side Cwmparc.
With the new grounds in place, Cardiff joined the Southern Football League Second Division and appointed their first manager, Davy McDougall, who became player-manager. They went on to finish in fourth place in their first year in the league. The board decided to replace McDougall with Fred Stewart, who had previous managerial experience with Stockport County. He set about adopting a more professional approach, signing several players with Football League experience, including brothers John and George Burton and Billy Hardy. Stewart led the team to promotion in his second season, winning the Second Division title. They remained in the First Division for the next decade, finishing in the top four on two occasions. The league was suspended due to the outbreak of World War I between 1915 and 1919.
In 1920, the club submitted a successful application to join the Football League and were placed into the Second Division for the 1920–21 season. Stewart brought in several players with Football League experience, breaking the club's transfer record on two occasions to sign Jimmy Gill and later Jimmy Blair from The Wednesday. They played their first match in the Football League on 28 August 1920, defeating Stockport County 5–2.
The side finished the season in second place to win promotion to the First Division. They finished behind Birmingham City on goal average, and reached the semi-final of the FA Cup. In their third season in the top-tier, the team finished runners-up to Huddersfield Town because of a goal average difference of 0.024. Cardiff drew their final match 0–0 as club record goalscorer Len Davies missed a penalty.
The following season was the first time Cardiff appeared at Wembley Stadium reaching their first ever FA Cup final. The team lost 1–0 to Sheffield United following a goal from England international Fred Tunstall. The 1926–27 season was Cardiff's worst performance in the top tier of English Football since they had won promotion six seasons prior. Finishing in 14th position, however, they reached their second FA Cup final in the space of two years.
On St George's Day, 23 April 1927, at Wembley Stadium in London, Cardiff became the only non-English side to win the FA Cup by defeating Arsenal 1–0 in the final; Hughie Ferguson scored the only goal of the game. In the 74th minute, he received the ball from Ernie Curtis and hurried a tame shot toward the Arsenal goal. Dan Lewis, the Arsenal goalkeeper, appeared to collect the ball but, under pressure from the advancing Len Davies, clumsily allowed the ball to roll through his grasp. In a further attempt to retrieve the ball Lewis only succeeded in knocking the ball with his elbow into his own net. Captain Fred Keenor received the FA Cup trophy at the end of the match from King George V only seven years after Cardiff City had entered the Football League. When the team returned to Cardiff the next day, a crowd of around 150,000 people lined the streets to receive them.
The side also won the Welsh Cup in 1927 defeating Rhyl 2–0. They went on to win the FA Charity Shield after beating amateur side the Corinthians 2–1 at Stamford Bridge. However, the club soon entered a decline after their cup success and were relegated from the First Division in the 1928–29 season, despite conceding fewer goals than any other side in the division. They suffered a second relegation two years later, dropping into the Third Division South for the first time since they joined the Football League. During their time in the division, Cardiff recorded their biggest-ever win when they beat Thames by a scoreline of 9–2, but after finishing the 1932–33 season in 19th place, manager Fred Stewart tendered his resignation from his post after 22 years in charge of the team.
Club founder Bartley Wilson stepped in to replace Stewart. Results continued to be disappointing, however, and in March 1934, Ben Watts-Jones was given the opportunity to manage the club he had supported as a youngster. He was unable to turn the team's fortunes around by the end of the season, meaning Cardiff City were forced to apply for re-election after finishing bottom. Watts-Jones remained in charge for another three years until Bill Jennings replace him. Cardiff remained in the Third Division South until the Football League was suspended following the outbreak of World War II.
In their first season since the return of the Football League, Cardiff finished the 1946–47 season as champions of the Third Division South under new manager Billy McCandless and returned to the Second Division. McCandless left the club soon after and was replaced by Cyril Spiers who led the side to promotion in the 1951–52 season. Cardiff returned to the top tier of English football for the first time in 23 years. However, despite spending five seasons in the First Division, the team continually struggled in the bottom half of the table and were eventually relegated in 1957. They returned to the First Division for two seasons between 1960 and 1962 before again suffering relegation.
During the 1960s, Cardiff began qualifying for European competition for the first time as a result of winning the Welsh Cup. Their first ever match in European competition was in the European Cup Winners Cup during the 1964–65 season against Danish side Esbjerg fB. The team won 1–0 on aggregate over two legs, the only goal being scored by Peter King. They went on to reach the quarter-finals before being knocked out by Real Zaragoza. Despite their exploits in Europe, the team were still struggling in the league under the stewardship of Jimmy Scoular, finishing in 20th position in the Second Division.
Two years later the team reached the semi-final of the Cup Winners Cup after victories over Shamrock Rovers, NAC Breda, and Torpedo Moscow set up a tie with German side Hamburg, whose squad contained a number of German internationals. This was the furthest any Welsh side has advanced in European competition. After a 1–1 draw in the first leg, just over 43,000 fans turned out at Ninian Park to watch Hamburg win 3–2.
During the 1970–71 season, Cardiff reached the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners Cup where they faced Spanish side Real Madrid. The first leg of the tie was held at Ninian Park where 47,000 fans watched one of the most famous victories in Cardiff's history when Brian Clark headed in to give Cardiff a 1–0 win. They were later eliminated after losing the second leg 2–0. The team remained in the Second Division for 19 of the 20 seasons between 1962 and 1982. They were relegated to the Third Division for one season during the 1975–76 season.
After dropping into the Third Division, Cardiff were continuously in the lower two divisions of the Football League between 1985 and 1993. The club appointed several managers in attempts to stabilize the team's performances. They were relegated to the Fourth Division once in the 1985–86 season and, despite returning to the Third Division on two occasions, in 1996 finished in their lowest-ever league position – 22nd of 24 in Division Three. In 1995, Cardiff and other Welsh clubs competing in English leagues were banned from entering the Welsh Cup by the Football Association of Wales after pressure from UEFA, who did not want teams playing in two national cup competitions. Their final match in the competition was a 2–1 defeat to Wrexham in the 1995 final.
In August 2000, Lebanese businessman Sam Hammam purchased control of the club. Shortly after taking over, he controversially pledged to get the entire Welsh nation to support Cardiff by renaming the club "The Cardiff Celts" and changing the club colours to green, red and white. However, after lengthy talks with senior players and fans, he decided the best policy was not to change the name of the club. The club crest was redesigned, however, and the new design incorporated the Cardiff City bluebird in front of the Flag of Saint David and featured the club's nickname superimposed at the top of the crest.
Hammam invested heavily in the team, funding the transfers of several new players that saw Lennie Lawrence guide Cardiff to promotion via a Second Division play-off triumph in 2003 against Queens Park Rangers. Substitute Andy Campbell came off the bench to score the only goal in extra time and ensure Cardiff returned to Division One after an 18-year absence.
The Bluebirds established themselves in Division One. After failing to get new stadium plans agreed by Cardiff Council because of concerns over financial security in 2006, however, Hammam agreed to a takeover by a consortium led by new chairman Peter Ridsdale and the lead developer of the new stadium, Paul Guy. During the takeover, Hammam was accused of "total greed and self-interest" by the club's board and they revealed spiralling costs had left the club crippled by debt. During the 2007–08 season, Cardiff reached the semi-final of the FA Cup for the first time in 81 years after beating Middlesbrough 2–0 on 9 March 2008. After coming through their semi-final against Barnsley with a 1–0 win at Wembley Stadium on 6 April with a goal from Joe Ledley, they eventually lost 1–0 to Portsmouth in the final.
In May 2010, Malaysian Datuk Chan Tien Ghee took over as club chairman, with Vincent Tan also investing and joining the board. The following year, the club appointed Malky Mackay as manager. He took the side to the League Cup final for the first time in the club's history during his first season. The following season, Cardiff won the 2012–13 Championship title and with it gained promotion to the Premier League for the first time for 52 years. On 18 August 2013, Cardiff played their first ever away Premier League match against West Ham United, losing 2–0. Cardiff won only three games in the first half of the season and, on 27 December 2013, Mackay was sacked by Vincent Tan and replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Following his dismissal, Cardiff submitted a dossier to the Football Association in which they accused Mackay of sending discriminatory text messages during his time at the club. However, no charges were brought against Mackay as the texts were deemed to be private correspondence which was outside the FA's remit. Despite the change in management, Cardiff were relegated to the Championship after a single season following a 3–0 away defeat to Newcastle United. Solskjær himself was sacked on 18 September 2014 after a disappointing start to the following Championship season, and replaced by Leyton Orient manager Russell Slade.
In October 2016, Neil Warnock was appointed first team manager of Cardiff. Warnock took over the team with Cardiff second from the bottom of the table after two wins from 11 games. However, Cardiff finished the 2016–17 season 12th after a good run of form. The start of the 2017–18 season saw Cardiff break a club record by winning their opening three league games of a season, the first time in the club's 107-year professional history. They proceeded to clinch promotion to the Premier League after finishing second in the table.
** – Colours / Crest – **
When Riverside A.F.C. was formed in 1899, the club used a chocolate-brown and amber checkered shirt. Following the club's name change to Cardiff City in 1908, they adopted a blue shirt and white or blue shorts and socks, although for the first nine years black socks were used. Kit changes over the club's history have included all blue kits, the introduction of a yellow vertical stripe during the 1970s and alternating blue stripes.
In 2012, Cardiff controversially changed their home kit colours from the traditional blue, white and yellow to red and black, the first time the club had not worn blue as its primary colour since 1908. The crest was also changed to one in which the Welsh Dragon was more prominent than the traditional bluebird. The crest was changed to "appeal in 'international markets'" and was part of a "major investment plan" unveiled by chairman Vincent Tan. The change angered fans, who expressed their opposition in the news and on social media as well as directly to management. A number of protest marches and demonstrations were held to voice displeasure at the change. Despite Tan previously stating that the club would only return to wearing blue if another owner was found, on 9 January 2015, after three seasons playing in the red kit, the club reverted their home kit back to blue with a red away kit in a bid to "unite" the club.
From 1908 Cardiff played in unadorned shirts. This changed in 1959, when they played in shirts with a simple crest featuring an image of a bluebird. The following season their shirts were featureless and remained so until 1965, when they played in shirts with the word "Bluebirds" embroidered. A new crest, similar to the one used previously, and again featuring a bluebird, was introduced in 1969. Variations on this crest remained until the 1980s, when extra features including words and additional motifs were added. A major change was made in 2012, when owner Vincent Tan attempted to rebrand the club to expand its appeal outside Wales. This change gave large prominence to the Welsh Dragon, reducing the bluebird to a minor feature. In March 2015, Cardiff announced a new crest which would once again feature the Bluebird predominantly with an oriental dragon replacing the standard Welsh dragon.
* Ninian Park *
Cardiff's first ground was at Sophia Gardens recreational park where they played from their founding in 1899 until 1910. Due to the lack of facilities at the ground, and increasing support for the club, Bartley Wilson contacted Bute Estate, who owned large amounts of Cardiff at the time, in an attempt to find land suitable for building a stadium. They eventually agreed on an area of waste ground on Sloper Road. The land was a former rubbish tip and required extensive work to get a playable surface, but with the assistance of Cardiff Corporation and volunteers the work was completed. The ground was originally to be known as Sloper Park. It was instead named after Lord Ninian Crichton-Stuart, who was a driving force behind the ground's construction, and it became Ninian Park. The ground hosted its first match on 1 September 1910 with a friendly against Aston Villa; Lord Crichton-Stuart performed the kick-off.
The stadium was built with one stand. A second was opened in 1928, which could hold 18,000 people, replacing an earth embankment. It hosted its first international match in March 1911 with a Welsh match against Scotland. Towards the end of its lifespan, the ground was eventually replaced for international fixtures by Cardiff Arms Park as increasing doubts mounted over the safety of the aging ground.
The club's record attendance in the ground is 57,893 which was achieved during a league match against Arsenal on 22 April 1953. The scaling down of grounds throughout the 1970s and 1980s due to safety fears, which saw the ground capacity fall to 22,000, meant that the record stood until the grounds' closure. In its final years of use, the club was forced to seek special dispensation from authorities to keep the remaining standing areas of the ground open, as clubs at Championship level or above were given three years to redevelop their grounds or remove them.
* Cardiff City Stadium *
In June 2009, the club completed construction of a 26,828-seat stadium on the site of the now-demolished old Cardiff Athletics Stadium at a cost of £48 million. The project required the rebuilding of the athletics stadium, to be known as Cardiff International Sports Stadium, on the opposite side of Leckwith Road in Cardiff.
On 20 September 2007 it was announced that the Cardiff Blues rugby union club would leave their Cardiff Arms Park home to become tenants of Cardiff City at the new Leckwith stadium. This was a move which caused controversy among the rugby club's fans. The ground was eventually named the "Cardiff City Stadium". Three of the four stands would keep the names used at Ninian Park, the Grange End, the Canton Stand and the Grandstand, and the fourth stand would be called the Ninian Stand.
The ground's naming rights were expected to be sold, with the club hoping to generate up to £9 million income; however they remain unsold. Although a pre-season friendly against Chasetown was played at the ground with limited capacity to test safety features, the stadium was officially opened with a friendly against Scottish side Celtic on 22 July 2009. The first competitive match played at the ground saw Cardiff record a 4–0 victory over Scunthorpe United on 8 August 2009, the opening day of the 2009–10 season.
In August 2014, expansion plans were completed, increasing the stadium capacity to 33,316. However, in March 2015, it was announced that the Ninian Stand extension was to be shut for the 2015–16 season due to poor ticket sales, dropping the capacity to 27,978. However, it was reopened the following year due to an increase in demand for tickets.
** – Facilities – **
Cardiff City Football Club work hard to provide the best facilities they can for their disabled supporters and pride themselves on being inclusive for all. They understand and recognise that disabled supporters may need assistance when visiting Cardiff City Stadium to enjoy their experience. Therefore, they offer a number of reasonable adjustments based on individual needs.
Disability Access Officer
The Club's Disability Access Officer (DAO) is Adam Gilliatt. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, over the phone by calling 0845 365 1115 or in person at Cardiff City Stadium.
Season Tickets, Match Tickets and Memberships
Disabled Supporters are able purchase Season Tickets, Match Tickets and Memberships at the appropriate price band. All of them are sold subject to availability. Tickets purchased will include a second ticket for their personal assistant (if required). This is subject to the supporter meeting the below criteria:
Wheelchair users are accommodated in a number of areas around Cardiff City Stadium, all allow the personal assistant to sit alongside them. All areas in which wheelchair users are located offer good lines of sight.
Cardiff City Stadium has seven accessible entrances, these are: -
General match seating is available for Ambulant Disabled supporters in accessible areas of the Stadium. They have a number of easy access seats for supporters to use with no or minimal stepped access. These are close to accessible amenities and entrances. Please advise the ticket office at the time of booking your match tickets.
Blind or Visually Impaired Supporters.
Cardiff City Stadium currently does not offer a match audio described commentary service on a match day. This is due to demand in recent seasons. For any supporters who wish to listen to match commentary they recommend supporters listen in to Cardiff City Player HD for premium Club Commentary. BBC Radio Wales also broadcast a live match commentary for each fixture. The frequency for BBC Radio Wales is 103.9 FM.
Deaf or Hard of Hearing Supporters.
Cardiff City Stadium has induction loop equipment in the Stadium Ticket Office, Stadium Superstore and Stadium Reception. On match days at Cardiff City Stadium, information is displayed on the stadium screens and announced via the Public-Address System. Headsets are not currently available for supporters to listen to match commentaries. Any supporters who do wish to listen to match commentaries are recommended to listen to Cardiff City Player HD or BBC Radio Wales.
Supporters with Learning Difficulties.
Supporters with learning difficulties can normally be accommodated within any area of the stadium. If a person with a learning difficulty feels that seating in the stand may not be suitable for them, please contact the Club’s Disabled Access Officer to discuss your requirements further.
Cardiff City Stadium has accessible toilets located all around the stadium. All accessible toilets operate using a ‘radar’ key system. They would advise you to bring your ‘radar’ access key with you when visiting us. Should you not have your key with you on an event day please see your nearest steward who will be able to arrange access.
Cardiff City Stadium offers excellent car parking facilities to both home and away supporters. All accessible parking bays for home supporters are issued as seasonal parking permits. Accessible parking bays are available for away supporters on match days. Away supporters are asked to contact their Club for further information. Cardiff City Stadium has a drop off point for any supporters requiring the use of this service. They ask you to contact the Disabled Access Officer in advance of your visit so the Car Park Manager can be notified and the appropriate arrangements can be made.
Supporters wishing to attend an event at Cardiff City Stadium with an assistance dog must contact the Disability Access Officer so that they can ensure that the appropriate tickets and arrangements have been made before visiting.
Temporary Mobility Restrictions.
Supporters suffering from temporary mobility restrictions (e.g. broken ankle) that could affect their access to the stadium or seating areas should contact the Disability Access Officer before the game to arrange alternative seating and/or access. Please note this is subject to availability.
** – Getting to Cardiff City Stadium – **
If you're travelling to the Stadium by car, access to it from the M4 is easy. Leave the M4 at junction 33 and take the A4232 towards Cardiff/Barry. Exit the A4232 on to the B4267 turn-off, signposted towards Cardiff City Stadium. You'll see the stadium on the horizon as you approach the turn-off!
Follow the slip-road off the B4267 and take the first left at the roundabout, the Stadium will be on your right hand side. Turn right at the second set of traffic lights and follow the appropriate signage for your dedicated parking space.
N.B. Parking at Cardiff City Stadium is limited. Parking spaces are predominantly designated to Season Ticket Holders, with the remaining spaces allocated on a first come first served basis. There are alternative parking areas within a short walking distance of the ground.
The railway station in closest proximity to Cardiff City Stadium is now Grangetown Station. They are approximately 5-10 minutes walk away from Grangetown, which you can get to by taking a connecting train from Cardiff's main station, Cardiff Central. There are direct trains from London Paddington, Birmingham, the south coast and south-west England, with connections from the rest of the National Rail network to Central Station - a step free station with staff assistance available.
* Opening Times *
Cardiff City SuperStore Opening Times
Location : Cardiff City Stadium, Leckwith Road , Cardiff, CF11 8AZ
Transport: Grangetown (National Rail) then 8 minutes OR Cardiff Central (National Rail) then bus (95A, 95B, 95C). Bus Routes: 95A, 95B and 95C stop at the stadium, 4, 609 and 610 stop closeby.
Capacity : 33,316
Tel: 03333 111927