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Bluebirds are knocked back in shock Champions League bid.

Byline: By IAN HUNT Western Mail

Sam hammam claims he has been knocked back by the FA of Wales in a fresh bid to get Cardiff City into the UEFA Champions League. Hammam wants Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham to be permitted to play teams in the Welsh Premier - which has a Champions League avenue for the title winners.

But the Bluebirds supremo says the FAW have rejected a new move that would have opened the way for Wales' Nationwide League trio to take part in European football's premier club competition.

Hammam wants the trio to have the chance of playing in Europe again after a nine-year absence.

Since 1995, when Wrexham played in the old European Cup Winners' Cup, entry has been restricted to the League of Wales clubs only.

Hammam wants the Welsh Big Three to be given a shot at the Champions League by competing in the Welsh Premier as well as the Nationwide League.

It is a move he first proposed after he took over at Cardiff in 2000 when he explored the possibility of the Bluebirds merging with Cwmbran.

The FAW discussed the idea at the time, but in the end the move was rejected because League of Wales rules say reserve teams are not permitted in their competition.

Hammam, who argues he has a Cardiff first-team squad, said a fresh bid to take Cardiff into the newly-named Welsh Premier had been knocked back by the FAW yesterday.

'We feel the six Welsh clubs who compete in the English pyramid should be given the opportunity to participate in the League of Wales,' said Hammam.

'The FAW have turned us down and it is a shame that they are not willing to vigorously support the idea.'

When Hammam first proposed the Cardiff in the LoW idea three years ago, it sparked a backlash from smaller clubs complaining Cardiff were trying to sneak into Europe via the back door.

But, stating his case once more yesterday, Hammam insisted, 'This is something that would be good for the whole of Welsh football, not just Cardiff City. If you allow Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham to compete in the League of Wales you are going to raise the whole standard.'
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 22, 2004
Words:369
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