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Page last updated at 06:28 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 07:28 UK

Wales lines up for identity parade

Coca Cola Championship play-off final - Blackpool v Cardiff City
Venue: Wembley Stadium Date: Saturday, 22 May Kick-off: 1500 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live & online, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, live text commentary online and score updates on BBC Sport website and highlights on The Football League Show. Also live on Sky Sports

Ross McCormack celebrates Cardiff's play-off semi-final win
Ross McCormack celebrates Cardiff qualifying for the play-off final

By Peter Shuttleworth

As Cardiff City prepare their final assault in the hope of joining the creme de la Prem, Wales could enjoy a double boost to spread their word to a new global audience.

Wales is fully aware the worldwide draw of the Premier League can market the land of my fathers to parts of the planet that other campaigns just cannot reach.

And as Wales readies the red carpet ahead of golf's Ryder Cup, this small country may have no bigger platform to sell itself than two of the world's most-watched sporting institutions.

European skipper Colin Montgomerie and United States captain Corey Pavin
Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin skipper the Ryder Cup teams

The prize for the winner of Saturday's Championship play-off final at Wembley between Cardiff and Blackpool is not just promotion to the lucrative Premier League, but an estimated £90m jackpot made up of television and commercial revenue.

But should the Bluebirds win the globe's richest football game and regain top-flight status after a 48-year absence, the club will not be the sole beneficiary.

The Premier League - the self-styled "Greatest Show on Earth" - is beamed to almost half a billion homes around the globe in 211 countries and boasts cumulative viewing figures of 2.65bn over a season.

And the Ryder Cup, staged at Newport's Celtic Manor Resort in October, is another in the top 10 global sporting events list.

An estimated 750m homes in 195 countries - a potential 2bn audience - will tune in as Wales is broadcast to the world.

"Rugby gives Wales great profile in markets such as Australia, South Africa and New Zealand," said Ryder Cup Wales chief executive Rob Holt.

"But the Ryder Cup and Premier League football would hit a global reach in markets in Asia, America and parts of Europe. This does allow a country to market itself and Wales must take advantage.

If we go up to the Premier League, we're not just taking a football club up, we're taking a nation up with us

Cardiff City manager Dave Jones

"We're using the Ryder Cup as an endorsement of the Wales brand," he added.

"I'm sure there are people around the world who watch Ryder Cups and Premier League football still don't know about Wales.

"So if they hear about Wales, the trick is to react to those questions by promoting the country not just to meet business objectives but to the wider global audience."

Professor Tom Cannon at the University of Liverpool is a sports finance expert who has undertaken economic impact studies around sports events.

"If Cardiff win promotion, the next few months could be an unprecedented and unique opportunity for Wales to market itself globally through sport," Professor Cannon told BBC Sport.

"Both the Premier League and Ryder Cup attract hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide and Tiger Woods playing at the Celtic Manor will up the interest a little more.

Jones on the impact of Premier League

"In addition to the worldwide exposure, Premier League football and the Ryder Cup would be worth in excess of £200m to the Welsh economy."

Wales, whose population is 2.9m, just makes it into the top 150 biggest countries and this former powerhouse of heavy industry is now trying to sell itself by punching above its sporting weight.

"If we go up to the Premier League," said Cardiff City boss Dave Jones ahead of Saturday's Championship play-off final, "we're not just taking a football club up, we're taking a nation up with us."

Wales' list of sporting portfolio includes hosting FA Cup finals, an Ashes Test match, a Rugby World Cup final, Joe Calzaghe super-fights, Heineken Cup finals and the British rally.

But staging Premier League football and one of golf's crown jewels would take Wales into a different league.

Such showcases are what the Welsh Assembly Government's proposed major events strategy is trying to attract and heritage minister Alun Ffred Jones admits: "It is very important for nations to have high profile sporting events.

"The idea is to show the world Wales can host major events and business successfully.

"You can't buy the sort of advertising that Ryder Cup and Premier League would give Wales directly, it would break the bank.

"The fact is Wales does not have a high international profile so we have to box clever and take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way to broadcast the name and image of Wales around the world as if they don't we're there, they won't make the effort to find us."

Welsh golfer Rhys Davies has an outside chance of qualifying for the Ryder Cup and the Cardiff City fan has his own reason to hope Wales achieves a Premier League boost.

"I travel the globe playing golf and it's amazing how many Premier League games are on television all over the world. I can watch more live Premier League football when I'm in Asia, Australia or America than I can when I'm in Britain.

"So if Cardiff go up, I'll probably be able to watch most of their games when I'm away at golf tournaments.

"Everywhere I go around the world, people talk to me about the Premier League and Ryder Cup and not many events have that pull."



see also
Cardiff warned over Wembley pitch
18 May 10 |  Cardiff
Bothroyd injury cost us - Hudson
22 May 10 |  Cardiff
McPhail to repay Cardiff support
14 May 10 |  Cardiff
Cardiff ready for 'biggest' game
13 May 10 |  Championship
Cardiff 2-3 Leicester (agg 3-3)
12 May 10 |  Championship
Forest 3-4 Blackpool (agg 4-6)
11 May 10 |  Championship
Fantasy football for Cardiff
10 May 10 |  Cardiff
Cardiff's unexpected play-off tale
05 May 10 |  Cardiff
'Mega' event plan after Ryder Cup
07 Apr 10 |  Wales
Saturday night fever
31 Mar 10 |  Championship
Wales confident of 2010 Ryder Cup
13 May 09 |  Golf
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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