CARDIFF -- Wales will have two teams in next season's Premier League after Cardiff gained promotion to the lucrative top flight on Tuesday for the first time in 51 years.
Cardiff, which was playing in the fourth tier and suffering severe financial hardship only 11 years ago, guaranteed a top-two finish in the League Championship thanks to its 0-0 draw against Charlton. The players were mobbed by fans who poured onto the pitch at the final whistle at Cardiff City Stadium.
"This is something very special," Cardiff manager Malky Mackay said. "This group of players is a group of winners."
Cardiff, owned by Malaysian millionaire Vincent Tan, has led the Championship since November and just needs one win from its final three games to go up as champions. The team has been beaten in the playoffs for the past three years but has had a more sturdy look to it this season under Mackay, who led Cardiff to the League Cup final last season where it lost to Liverpool.
"It's been pretty difficult to keep picking yourself up after all the disappointments," Cardiff's long-serving defender Kevin McNaughton said. "The fans have waited a long time for this."
With Swansea having established itself in the Premier League since promotion in 2011, Wales has two teams in the division for the first time. Cardiff will be the 46th different side to play in the Premier League since its inception in 1992.
Cardiff can look forward to earning at least 60 million pounds ($90 million) in television money next season when the Premier League's biggest ever TV contract begins at the start of the 2013-14 campaign.