The suspension of Iain Moody, Malky Mackay's head of recruitment, and replacement by a 23-year-old is the latest upheaval at Cardiff that contrasts badly with Swansea's progress
Unfortunately for Cardiff City supporters, the club that put the occasionally erratic and constantly worrying events at their club into the clearest perspective are just along the M4, their south Wales rivals, Swansea City.
The Swans have lifelong supporters as chairman and directors, including the supporters' trust which elects a representative on to the board. Following the club's insolvency in 2001, then helped by a new stadium the local council built, Swansea glided to the Premier League with a long-term football vision and still shrewd player recruitment.
The men who run Swansea have never dreamt of changing the colour of the kit they grew up watching, and it is impossible to imagine them replacing a vital member of the football operation with a 23-year-old Kazakh friend of the chairman's son, with no previous experience in football.
Such is the current situation at the Bluebirds – not yet renickamed the Redbirds – where the latest shock under the ownership of the Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan has been the suspension of Iain Moody, head of recruitment for the manager, Malky Mackay, without explanation. Moody's replacement is Alisher Apsalyamov, a friend of Tan's son, who had some work experience at the club in the summer, and more recently described himself as executive assistant to the recently appointed chief executive, Simon Lim.
Tan owns 51% of Cardiff, a majority he bought in May 2010 with the Bluebirds still saddled with debt loaded on during the ownership of Sam Hammam. Far from being a long-term Cardiff City fan, Tan has acknowledged he did not even know the rules of football when he took over.
The club, established by Cardiff's Riverside cricket team in 1899, were a financial investment to Tan, like McDonald's, which he introduced to Malaysia, and the other businesses there that have made his personal fortune.
Championship clubs have increasingly been bought by overseas investors, as at Leicester City, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United, eyeing the huge money to be made by winning promotion to the TV-rights windfalls of the Premier League. By contrast to Swansea's passing their way up the divisions without overspending or taking on debt, Tan has financed a fast track up with a massive injection of money, mostly in loans.
The last published accounts, for the year to 31 May 2012, show that City lost £14m that year, following £12m the year before, the first under Tan's ownership. The losses were financed largely with loans from Tan that, up to that point, amounted to £37m. Made by Tan himself, associates, and two companies they own, Edgedale International and Erskine Finance, the loans charge interest at 7% a year.
That financial situation predates the accelerated push for promotion under Mackay, which in the summer of 2012 involved 10 new signings, including Fraizer Campbell from Sunderland, Nicky Maynard from West Ham United and the talismanic return of Craig Bellamy to his native city club. That restoration of a Welsh star, and the vast expenditure itself, allayed for many Cardiff fans the bewilderment and unease at Tan's baffling decision to change the colour of the club's kit from blue to red.
Tim Hartley, chairman of the supporters' trust, says fans responding to a survey feel more strongly about the colour change now that City have won promotion, as it dawns on them that the change none of them asked for looks permanent under Tan.
After winning promotion Cardiff spent lavishly on seven new players for Mackay last summer, including Sevilla's Gary Medel, who cost £11m, Tottenham Hotspur's Steven Caulker for £9m, Andreas Cornelius of FC Copenhagen for £8.5m and Rennes's Kévin Théophile-Catherine for £2.1m. Moody, a French and Italian graduate and former journalist, worked with Mackay at Watford, where he moved into player recruitment after working as the press officer. Although the club have declined to comment, it is suggested that Tan is aggrieved that Cardiff exceeded the mooted budget of £25m and after rows with players about bonuses, Moody has been removed in favour of a Tan trusty.
More upsetting for Bluebirds fans than this sudden upheaval in itself is the contrast with the Liberty Stadium and the grudging knowledge that as things stand, such things could never happen at the Swans.